Motion sickness is a common issue faced by travelers, particularly those who are prone to nausea and dizziness. Most people experience some degree of motion sickness when riding in cars, airplanes, or boats. Fortunately, there are simple strategies that can be used to prevent motion sickness and make traveling more enjoyable. From avoiding certain foods to taking breaks during long trips, these tips will help you stay comfortable while traveling and reduce the risk of motion sickness.
Tips for Preventing Motion Sickness
- Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, and spicy foods
Alcohol increases the risk of getting motion sick because it acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. Heavy meals and spicy foods also make you more likely to feel nauseous by stimulating your digestive system and triggering vomiting reflexes. These factors can be mitigated by avoiding these foods before traveling or eating smaller amounts throughout the day.
- Don’t travel in cramped conditions or spend too much time on planes, boats, or cars
Traveling on a plane, boat, or car can increase the risk of getting motion sick by causing changes in your vestibular system. This is because your brain uses this sense to help calibrate the position of your body and keep you level. Additionally, staying in a cramped space for too long can also cause dizziness and nausea.
- Limit the time spent traveling on any given day
The average healthy adult has about 24 hours of cumulative motion sickness risk over 10 days, but this can vary depending on lifestyle factors such as exercise habits or how frequently you take long-distance flights. To prevent motion sickness while traveling, experts recommend limiting the time spent traveling on any day.
- Eat small amounts of food slowly and not too close together
The stomach is a small, perfect piece of equipment that can only hold so much food at one time before it has to let smaller bits pass through it to make room for more. Eating a meal or snack that’s too large at once can cause discomfort because your stomach is unable to empty its contents as quickly as it should be able to to keep up with the incoming food. It’s best not to eat meals or snacks too close together either because eating too much at once can cause stomach cramps and indigestion.
- Ensure you stay hydrated
People with motion sickness tend to be dehydrated, so it's important to stay well-hydrated to reduce the risk of having a bout of vomit. Experts recommend drinking plenty of water as soon as you start feeling nauseated, and drinking or washing down any pills for nausea if necessary.
- Avoid synthetic preservatives and colorings in food
Some people are sensitive to artificial colors or additives, which might lead them to experience dizziness or other symptoms when they eat food containing these ingredients (such as processed foods). Limit the amount of these ingredients in your diet to prevent lightheadedness or other symptoms.
- Limit caffeine
If you have motion sickness, caffeine is not a good idea because it might make nausea worse by increasing constipation and heart rate, which can lead to vomiting.
- Eat small meals frequently
Some people with motion sickness experience abdominal pain after eating because of the way they eat food during their illness (e.g., they may gulp down large amounts of food). Eating small meals more frequently helps to avoid this problem by avoiding sudden changes in blood sugar levels and blood flow to your stomach that might trigger vomiting later on in the day if you eat a large meal.
- Other suggestions
Dining at an upright angle helps avoid the feeling of rolling through the stomach as you eat, which can sometimes trigger nausea. If a person with motion sickness is sitting in a chair, it might help to put something on their lap (e.g., newspaper) to help them feel more stable and secure in that position.
Other suggestions include having someone else serve you your food and stay near you while you eat so they can catch any signs of vomiting before it happens or hold your hair back if that's something that seems necessary for you during episodes of nausea or vomiting. Some people find it helpful to eat food that's easy to chew, like toast or crackers.
If a person with GERD is eating a meal at a table, it is recommended that they avoid the head of the table and instead sit two to three feet away from it. Some foods may cause discomfort in people with GERD. Examples include: Chewing gum can help open up the airway, as well as provide something for your mouth to do during a meal. It also forces you to chew more slowly and swallow more often than if you were not chewing anything. This helps avoid the feeling of food being stuck in your throat. Goldfish crackers are very small, so they can be eaten quickly without taking a lot of time.
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