DEFINITION--An unpleasant, temporary disturbance that occurs while traveling,
characterized by dizziness and stomach upset.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Semicircular canals in the inner ear. These fluid-filled
canals maintain balance.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Both sexes; all ages.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Spinning sensation.
- Weakness and unsteadiness.
CAUSES--Motion, especially airplane, boat or car; amusement park ride or
swinging. Irregular motion causes fluid changes in the semicircular canals of the inner
ear, which transmit signals to the brain's vomiting center.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Don't eat large meals or drink alcohol before and during travel.
- Sit in areas of the airplane (usually over the wings) or boat with the least motion.
- Recline in your seat, if possible.
- Breathe slowly and deeply.
- Avoid areas where others are smoking, if possible.
- On an airplane or bus, turn on the overhead air vent to improve air circulation.
- Don't read.
- Take medication to prevent motion sickness before you travel.
- Some airlines have developed behavior-modification techniques for those who are afraid
to fly or have motion sickness. Contact the airline or your travel agent for information.
- Psychological factors contribute to motion sickness. Try to resolve concerns about
travel before leaving home. Maintain a positive attitude.
- Consider preventive therapy. One technique involves desensitization (special training
for using your eyes that may help avoid the symptoms of motion sickness).
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor, if motion sickness is recurrent and
interferes with your life.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Doctor's treatment, if you have a chronic illness that may be worsened by vomiting.
- Psychotherapy or counseling, if your occupation or lifestyle requires travel and you
usually develop motion sickness.
- Dehydration from vomiting.
- Falls and injuries from unsteadiness.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Spontaneous recovery when the trip is over or soon thereafter.
How To Treat
- Once you have the symptoms, try to rest in a dark room with a cool cloth over the eyes
- Allowing yourself to vomit can help the nausea. Don't make yourself vomit.
- For minor discomfort, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as dimenhydrinate
(Dramamine), before and during travel.
- Your doctor may prescribe scopolamine patches to control symptoms. Remove promptly after
travel is completed; long-term use is not recommended.
ACTIVITY--To minimize symptoms during travel, rest in a reclining position and
fix your gaze on a distant object.
DIET--Eat lightly or not at all before and during brief trips. For longer trips,
sip frequently on beverages--don't take large drinks--to maintain your fluid intake. Avoid
alcohol, carbonated drinks and extra-cold beverages.
Call Your Doctor If