4 ways to deal with car sickness

Car sickness can happen to anyone. Here's how to deal with your own or your little passengers' motion sickness.


Car sickness, sometimes referred to as motion sickness, is an unpleasant ailment that affects a lot of children and adults.  Moms will know all about travelling long distance with a child with motion sickness. By Vuyi Mpofu

Car sickness is believed to be triggered by conflicting signals between the inner ear, eyes and the body’s sensory receptors.  The conflict between the two messages is what is believed to cause car sickness.

This is particularly common among toddlers who cannot fluently express themselves; and unless they display common physical symptoms such as vomiting, sweating, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath or an inexplicable feeling of drowsiness or mild headaches, you might have had trouble ‘diagnosing’ your child’s whining.

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Usually, once the car stops the tormented passenger experiences a sense of immediate relief.  This is because the channels within the nervous system align and send the same message to the brain.  But, if you have just begun your long trip to a far-flung destination, take note of the following best known tricks and tips to help alleviate car sickness, and make travelling by car a more pleasant experience for everyone.

1. Ride shotgun: Medical experts believe that by sitting in the front seat of a moving vehicle and fixing your gaze on the road ahead, your eyes, ears and body stands a better chance of reading and digesting the same information at the same time, decreasing the gap between what the eyes see and how the body interprets the motion of the vehicle. Of course, this works best among older children and adults as children under the age of 12 years should not be in the front end of the vehicle.

2. Keep cool and calm. Reducing the temperature by opening the windows or having the air-condition on, is also known to help lessen discomfort and symptoms of car sickness.

3. Keep a steady head. Having your eyes fixed on a single point can be difficult if you are in a bouncy car or twisty road. To help stabilize your vision, lean your head into the headrest or use a neck pillow to keep your head in ‘place’.

4. Take breaks. Pulling over frequently in safe or designated rest stops for a quick stretch brings the car to a halt and allows the eyes, ears and brain to ‘reset’. Not only are frequent breaks helpful to those who suffer from car sickness, but they are also good for the driver who should be taking a break every 2 hours.

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Other simple preventative measures include:

  • Breathing deeply and deliberately to slow down your heart rate, and relax your body.
  • Chewing gum or ginger to keep the channels within the inner ear open.
  • Avoiding strong food odours as well as greasy and spicy foods.

There is also another remedy which I am not too convinced works, and that is buying a car sickness wrist band.  The band is designed to fit just around your wrist thus creating a steady sense of pressure to the arm. I think this helps take your mind off the discomfort of travelling by redirecting it to the pressure in your forearm. But who knows, this might just be the one that works for you!