Travel Sickness
by Dr John Winsor - The Sunday Times of Malta



Motion sickness — or travel sickness — spoils many journeys. Yet it is possible to control this unpleasant and often embarrassing condition.

Although it most traditionally occurs when travelling by sea, motion sickness can also affect travellers on trains, aeroplanes, buses and motor cars.

In fact, so many more people travel by road than by sea that the number of children who suffer from motion sickness in cars and buses is higher than in any other category.

It is children rather than who suffer mostly from motion sickness. But, for some reason that researchers don’t entirely understand, the problem tends to disappear with time.

Researchers are constantly studying the subject of motion sickness. From what we know, it seems that the special organs of balance inside the ear have a vital part to play.

The physiological pathways are still something of a mystery, but it is now recognised that any type of regular movement can cause motion sickness. For example, motion sickness is common among people who go on roundabouts and rides at the fairground.

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the number of ‘cures’ for travel sickness that I’ve come across. One of the most convincing pieces of research I’ve seen suggests that when the brain is receiving plenty of visual information about what is going on, it balances that information against the motion and is less likely to become disturbed.

This is why most car drivers, aeroplane pilots, boat helmsmen and bike riders don’t suffer from motion sickness.

With this evidence in mind, one of the best ways to avoid motion sickness is to take an active interest in what is going on outside.

Trying to read or play a game inside a car will make things worse because the information being received through the eyes won’t match the info. Try games such as counting lorries, looking for blue cars or counting sheep in the fields instead.

You can also help minimise the problem by avoiding rich, spicy or fatty foods before travelling.

Of the many drugs available to stop motion sickness, the best ones are antihistamines. But since they cause drowsiness in many cases, they could be problematic for drivers and people doing dangerous work.