How to Prevent Motion Sickness on Long Car Rides?




Motion sickness, also known as car sickness, is a common problem that can turn a pleasant journey into an unpleasant experience. It’s caused by a conflict between signals sent to the brain by the inner ear, eyes, and other parts of the body. If you frequently experience this issue, there are several strategies you can try to prevent or reduce symptoms.

  1. Choose the Right Seat in the Car Where you sit in the car can significantly impact your well-being. Generally, the front seat is the most stable and provides the clearest view of the road, which helps synchronize visual signals with motion. Avoid sitting in the back seats, especially in SUVs or vans, where movements are more pronounced.
  2. Look Ahead and Focus on a Fixed Point Look straight ahead at the horizon. This helps stabilize the signals sent to the brain and reduces sensory conflict. Avoid reading or looking at your phone, as these activities can exacerbate nausea.
  3. Ventilate the Car Good ventilation can work wonders in preventing motion sickness. Open windows to let fresh air circulate or use air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature in the car. Strong smells, whether from food, perfumes, or fuel, can worsen nausea, so try to avoid them.
  4. Avoid Heavy Meals Before Traveling Avoid eating heavily or greasy foods before hitting the road. Opt for light meals and steer clear of fatty, spicy, or overly sweet foods. Also, don’t skip meals, as an empty stomach can worsen nausea. Light foods such as saltine crackers, fruits, or yogurt are good choices.
  5. Hydrate Properly Stay well-hydrated before and during the journey. Water is the best option, but you can also try ginger drinks, known for their anti-nausea properties. Avoid carbonated beverages and those containing caffeine or alcohol, as they can dehydrate and worsen nausea.
  6. Use Natural Remedies Ginger is a popular natural remedy for nausea. You can consume ginger as tea, candies, or supplements. Peppermint is another effective option and can be consumed as tea or candies. These natural remedies can help soothe the stomach and reduce motion sickness symptoms.
  7. Try Breathing and Relaxation Techniques Deep, slow breathing can help calm the nervous system and reduce nausea. Try inhaling deeply through your nose, holding your breath for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Also, listening to relaxing music or using meditation and mindfulness techniques can be helpful.
  8. Anti-Nausea Medications If the tendency to feel sick is very strong and natural methods are not enough, you can turn to anti-nausea medications. Over-the-counter medications such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine) are available. For long-term use or severe cases, consult a doctor for appropriate recommendations and prescriptions.

Motion sickness can be a bothersome problem, but with proper preparation and measures, car journeys can become much more enjoyable. By choosing the right seat in the car, maintaining good ventilation, avoiding heavy meals, staying properly hydrated, and using natural remedies or medications, you can significantly reduce the risk of feeling sick. Try different strategies to see what works best for you and enjoy worry-free travels!

What is Motion Sickness and How Does It Occur? Definition of Motion Sickness Motion sickness, also known as kinetosis, is a common condition that occurs when there is a conflict between visual perception and actual motion. It is characterized by feelings of nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and sometimes cold sweats. Motion sickness can occur in various situations, such as car rides, airplane flights, train rides, boat trips, or even during the use of virtual reality simulators.

Mechanism of Occurrence Motion sickness arises from a conflict between the signals received by the brain from the inner ear, eyes, and other sensory receptors in the body. These signals are essential for maintaining balance and orientation in space.

  1. Inner Ear (Vestibular System): The inner ear contains structures called semicircular canals and otoliths, which detect head movements and its position in relation to gravity. These structures send information to the brain about motion and balance.
  2. Visual System: The eyes transmit information about the surrounding environment and motion. During travel, the eyes may perceive movement differently from the inner ear, especially if you are looking at a fixed object inside the vehicle (such as a book or a screen).
  3. Proprioception: Receptors in muscles and joints provide information about the body’s position and movement. This information is integrated with that from the inner ear and eyes to maintain balance.

Sensory Conflict Motion sickness occurs when there is a conflict between the signals sent by these three systems to the brain. For example, when you are in a moving car and looking at a book or screen, your eyes may perceive that you are stationary, while your inner ear and body feel the vehicle’s motion. This information conflict can confuse the brain and trigger motion sickness symptoms.

Explanatory Theories There are several theories that attempt to explain why motion sickness occurs:

  1. Sensory Conflict Theory: This is the most widely accepted theory, suggesting that motion sickness is caused by a conflict between signals received by the brain from the inner ear and those from the eyes and body receptors.
  2. Neurotoxin Theory: According to this theory, motion sickness could be a defense reaction of the body against toxic substances. Sensory confusion could be interpreted by the brain as being caused by an ingested toxic substance, and nausea and vomiting would be defense mechanisms for eliminating it.
  3. Evolutionary Theory: This theory suggests that motion sickness is an evolutionary response to poisoning. In prehistoric times, the consumption of poisonous plants could cause symptoms similar to those of motion sickness, and the body developed nausea and vomiting as defense mechanisms.

Predisposing Factors Certain factors can increase a person’s susceptibility to motion sickness:

  • Age: Children between 2 and 12 years old are more prone to motion sickness than adults. • Gender: Women, especially those who are pregnant or menstruating, are more susceptible to motion sickness. • Genetics: There is a genetic component, meaning that if one parent suffers from motion sickness, there is a higher probability that the child will experience the same symptoms. • Emotional State: Anxiety and stress can exacerbate motion sickness symptoms.

Symptoms Motion sickness symptoms can vary in intensity and include:

  • Nausea • Vomiting • Dizziness • Cold sweats • Headache • Pallor • Fatigue

Motion sickness is a common and unpleasant condition caused by a conflict between sensory signals sent to the brain by the inner ear, eyes, and body. Understanding the mechanism of occurrence can help adopt effective preventive measures, making travels more comfortable and enjoyable.

What to Do If You Feel Sick During a Journey? What to Do If You Feel Sick During a Journey Despite preventive measures, there are times when motion sickness suddenly occurs during a journey. In these cases, there are a few steps you can take to alleviate symptoms and feel better.

Stop and Get Out of the Vehicle If possible, stop the vehicle and get out to breathe fresh air. Taking a short walk and deep breathing outdoors can help stabilize your senses and relieve nausea.

Focus on a Fixed Point Look at the horizon line or a fixed point in the distance. This can help synchronize visual signals with motion and reduce sensory conflict that causes nausea.

Adopt a Comfortable Position Sit in a comfortable position with your head supported. Try to avoid sudden head movements and keep it as stable as possible. If you can, lie down with your eyes closed, as this can reduce dizziness.

Stay Hydrated Sip on cold water or ginger drinks. Hydration is essential, but avoid drinking too much at once, as this can worsen nausea. Peppermint tea or lemon water can also be helpful.

Use Natural Remedies Chew on a piece of fresh ginger or suck on a ginger candy. Ginger is known for its anti-nausea properties. Peppermint can also be helpful in calming the stomach.

Apply Breathing Techniques Practice deep and slow breathing to calm the nervous system and reduce nausea. Try inhaling deeply through your nose, holding your breath for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly through your mouth.

Avoid Reading or Using Electronic Devices Reading or staring at a phone or tablet screen can worsen motion sickness. Instead, try looking out the window and focusing on the scenery outside.

Chew Gum or Suck on Mint Candies Chewing gum or sucking on a mint candy can help reduce nausea symptoms. The chewing action stimulates saliva production, which can help soothe the stomach.

Anti-Nausea Medications If motion sickness is severe, you can use over-the-counter anti-nausea medications such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine). These medications are effective in preventing and treating motion sickness symptoms. Consult a doctor for appropriate recommendations and prescriptions, especially if you need long-term use.

Stay Calm and Relaxed Stress and anxiety can worsen motion sickness. Try to stay calm and relaxed. Listen to soothing music or use relaxation and meditation techniques to calm your mind and body.

Managing motion sickness during a journey can be challenging, but by following these steps, you can significantly reduce discomfort. It’s important to know your own reactions and prepare in advance with remedies and strategies that work best for you. With a little planning and adjustment, you can make your travels more enjoyable and comfortable.


InfoCons – European Organization for Consumers Protection and Promotion of Programs and Strategies , a full member of the World Organization Consumers International, founding member of the Federation of Consumer Associations, and member of ANEC.

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