All entries for Sunday 29 May 2005

May 29, 2005

travel sickness — motion sickness

Forgetting the passports, getting stuck in traffic jams or packing the wrong clothes can all ruin your holiday. But these problems are nothing compared to feeling sick the moment you start to travel — Dr Rob Hicks.

I belong to the set of people who find it difficult to travel long distances in bus, car, boat or air-plane. What happens is that when I travel in the bus, I feel intense sickness in my stomach and feel depression. I find it difficult to talk to my fellow pessenger or do anything meaningful. All that I think about is — not this time. Please God!! Not this time. I cross my fingers and wish the journey to be finished before I vomit.

This phenomenon, commonly known as motion sickness or travel sickness can be explained as the confusion of mind by two different signals from eye and inner ear about the state of motion. For example, when we travel in a bus, our eyes can not sense the motion of the bus, while our inner ear can sense it. this results in two completely different signlas to the brain regarding the state of the motion, which in turns sends conflicting signals to other organs that results in following symptoms:

[Source: link ]

  • Sweating, excessive salivation, pale skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Drowsiness and weakness.
  • Headache.
  • Depression.
  • General feeling of discomfort.

Non-medical Treatments:
Given the syptoms of the problem, it seems logical to me that in order to avoid the problem try to minimize the causes. It implies either a) percept the motion through the eyes. or b) minimize the motion sensed by ears.

[A] Percept the motion throgh the eyes:
1. Keep on looking out of the vehicle. Open the windows/ curtains, if possible.
2. Best is to keep eye-site fixed on the horizon in order to keep sensing the motion of the vehicle.
3. Avoid reading anything while travelling.

note: Option A is not always possible. e.g.:
1. Travelling in the night, or in the vehicle covered by curtains/ non-transparent glass.
2. You must have to read something in the vehicle, or talk to someone inside the vehicle and you find it impoissible to keep looking at horizon.
In these cases, you can go for option B or C. But nothing works better than option A.

[B] Minimize the motion sensed by ears:
1. While travelling in the night, or in the bus which is completely covered by curtains, request seats which are on the most stable part of the vehicle. e.g. In planes the seat over the wings. In the bus, avoid sitting on the seats located just above the wheels.
2. Use your walkman/ iPod/ mp3-player.

[C] Non-medical treatments to travel sickness include
1. Taking slow and deep breaths just before starting the journey. [Source: link
2. Ginger is considerd to be quite effective for travel-sickness. Drink ginger-tea before starting the long-journey.
3. In order to recover fast, keep constant fluid supply.
4. Avoid eating greasy food before the journey.

Some interesting research-discoveries on travel-sickenss can be found here

An interesting article on BBC

PhD Comics

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