Travel sickness, also known as 'motion sickness' can occur on all modes of transport including aeroplanes, trains, cars, coaches, boats and even fairground rides. Mild cases of travel sickness cause queasiness, weariness and a pale complexion. In more severe cases, travel sickness can cause headache, dizziness, sweating, a watery mouth and vomiting.

Travel sickness can affect people of all ages but it is particularly common in children.

Causes

Travel sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages about movement. A balance mechanism located in the inner ear detects movement but at the same time the eyes may be focusing on a stationary, close range object within the vehicle, vessel or aircraft. These confused messages can cause travel sickness.

Strong smells, fumes, anxiety, a stuffy atmosphere, a full stomach, the sight of food or concentrating on a close range object such as a map can all trigger travel sickness.

Avoiding Travel Sickness

  • Focus your eyes on the route ahead rather than a close range object. Games such as 'I spy' will encourage children to do this
  • The front seat of a car or coach is the best place to sit if you suffer from travel sickness. There is less movement on a ship in the middle and on the lower decks and there is less movement on an aeroplane near the wings
  • Open vents or windows to allow fresh air to circulate. However, it is best to close vents in traffic jams to prevent exhaust fumes being drawn into the vehicle
  • Breaking up the journey by taking regular stops will help to prevent travel sickness
  • Avoid reading. This includes map-reading
  • Children should be seated high up to enable them to see out of the window
  • Drive road vehicles as smoothly as possible
  • Keep your head as still as possible
  • Avoid eating large meals before travelling
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before travelling

Treatment

Travel sickness treatments are available over the counter at most pharmacies. They are known as 'antiemetics' and they help to prevent and treat queasiness and vomiting. They are available as tablets, chewable tablets, liquid or patches. They can cause drowsiness therefore they should not be taken by anyone who will be driving and they should not be taken with alcohol. They should be taken before the start of the journey. Check the manufacturer's recommendations.Acupressure wristbands are also used to prevent travel sickness. They are based upon the theory that pressure applied to certain points of the body can alleviate sickness.When To See A DoctorPregnant women should consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any travel sickness remedies.Additional Information

Leaflets about other travel health issues such as malaria, insect bites and stings, sun protection and travellers' thrombosis are also available from this pharmacy.