Motion sickness and children: what it is and how to prevent it

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Motion sickness and children

La motion sickness o chinetosi o movement disease it is a rather common disorder, which mainly affects children between the ages of 2 and 12. Furthermore, women are particularly affected during pregnancy. This is not a real disease, but the car sickness it can be the source of various ailments in those who suffer from it, making the journey particularly unpleasant.

Let's see together what is the motion sickness, what are its causes, how to prevent it and what measures to follow to avoid it.

In this article

  • Motion sickness: what it is 
  • Motion sickness: the causes
  • Motion sickness: the symptoms
  • Motion sickness: therapies and prevention
  • Motion sickness: precautions to follow
  • Motion sickness: behaviors to avoid
Read also: Motion sickness in children (or motion sickness): what it is and how to prevent it

Motion sickness: what it is

Motion sickness is commonly called motion sickness, seasickness, air sickness, train sickness etc. Basically, it includes annoying disturbances that occur when you are on a means of transport (car, ship, plane, train).

Motion sickness is caused when the brain is sent conflicting messages from the organs involved in balance: inner ear, eyes, muscles and joints. In particular, the inner ear sends a different signal to the brain than the one that comes through the eyes: this generates confusion and consequently malaise.

Motion sickness: the causes

Causes of motion sickness includehypersensitivity of the center of balance (labyrinth / vestibular apparatus) located in the inner ear which, in predisposed people, stresses the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) more than necessary.

This happens because when traveling on a means of transport, the brain receives signals from different organs, but in some cases such signals can be conflicting with each other.

For example, if you read while on the bus, your eyes are focused on an element, the text of the book, newspaper, etc., which is stationary. The inner ear, on the other hand, perceives the movement of the means of transport on which it is located and sends a different message to the brain than that communicated by the eyes. 

Read also: Children, minor disturbances on vacation

Motion sickness: the symptoms

The main symptoms of motion sickness are:

  • pallor
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • cold sweats
  • frequent breathing (hyperventilation)
  • excessive salivation (hypersalivation)
  • extreme tiredness (exhaustion)
  • drowsiness

Some of these symptoms can occur at the same time. Normally, the disturbances cease at the end of the trip. 

Motion sickness: therapies and prevention

They exist on the market several drugs to counteract the ailments caused by motion sickness. In most cases they have a mild action and do not require a prescription.

  • Among those commonly used are the over-the-counter antihistamines, such as those containing dimenidrinato (safe for children over 2 years old) or the meclizina. They can take the form of soft capsules or chewing gum and should be taken at least 30-60 minutes before starting the journey. In the case of long journeys, the intake should be repeated after 4-6 hours. For children, the use of drugs should always be recommended and prescribed by the pediatrician.
  • Alternative methods against motion sickness are the acupressure or the use of magnets, through the application of special bracelets, seem to be able to contribute to the prevention of nausea, even if no scientific evidence is currently available on the real effectiveness of these systems. However, since they do not cause side effects, they can also be used in children.

Finally, it should be remembered that, to avoid or reduce the discomfort caused by motion sickness, it is sufficient to follow some precautions and avoid certain behaviors.

Read also: On vacation with children, traveling by car

Motion sickness: precautions to follow

Here are some measures to reduce the annoyances of motion sickness:

  • minimize the sensation of movement
  • sit in the front of the car
  • position yourself in the central area of ​​the ship
  • choose seats near the wings on the plane
  • look straight ahead at a point, such as the horizon
  • breathe fresh air, opening a window or positioning yourself in the outer portion of the ship, if possible
  • close your eyes and breathe slowly, focusing on your breathing
  • getting distracted, talking to other people or listening to music
  • make short stops whenever possible to get some air, drink water, or go for a walk
  • eat ginger, to help reduce the feeling of nausea

For those with small children, we also recommend:

  • leave early in the morning when the baby is still sleepy
  • drive calmly, with moderate and steady speed
  • feeding the child a small snack, with dry foods such as crackers or breadsticks, before the trip and during, if the trip is long
  • only drink water or tea in small sips, avoid carbonated drinks
  • distract the child with games or songs
  • keep the car environment cool and ventilated (by leaving a window open a little or using the air conditioning)

Motion sickness: behaviors to avoid

Finally, we suggest some behaviors to avoid if you suffer from motion sickness.

  • reading, watching movies or using electronic devices (computers, tablets, smartphones)
  • watching moving objects, such as cars, wave patterns, or rolling scenery
  • sit in places opposite to the direction of travel of the vehicle
  • eat heavy, spicy foods or alcoholic beverages shortly before or during the trip
  • inhaling strong odors such as gasoline, perfumes or stale air
  • smoke or be near people who smoke
  • go on the rides

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Read also: Car sickness and children: how to deal with it

Questions and answers

How to entertain children on a car trip?

Remember to bring a blanket, cushion, and favorite puppets or other small games that the child is fond of. For the little ones, equip yourself with the classic games that you can put in your mouth ... They always help!

How to prevent motion sickness in children?

Let him have a small snack before the trip. If the journey is long, have him snack frequently, with crackers or breadsticks.

Do car sickness bracelets work?

The action mechanism of the motion sickness bracelets is based on the compression of the P6 point of Chinese medicine. Having no side effects, the bracelets can be considered even in younger children.

  • family vacations
  • malaise
  • children in the car
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