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Tips On Managing Motion Sickness

Tips On Managing Motion Sickness

by Alvin Ong, Pharmacy Manager

An overseas trip, be it a short getaway or a month-long backpacking, is always something to look forward to!

However, individuals with motion sickness may disagree – they will have to overcome the dizziness, nausea and vomiting before they can really enjoy.

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is a common condition for many, particularly when travelling by car, train, airplane or boat. It may happen suddenly, causing the person to feel sick and break out in cold sweat.

Dizziness, nausea and vomiting may then set in, and sometimes, motion sickness may go away when the body adapts to the conditions that cause the problem.

Causes of motion sickness

Motion sickness occurs when there is a conflict between two sensory inputs. For example, when there is a discrepancy between movement perceived by the eye and the sense of movement in the inner ear, motion sickness sets in.

In other words, the brain is receiving different signals from the eye and inner ear, leading to confusion which then leads to the symptoms of motion sickness.

While motion sickness is usually associated with travel sickness, it can also happen even when there is no travelling involved. People who play fast-paced computer games or watch films recorded on a shaky camera may also experience these symptoms.

How to prepare against motion sickness

There are medications available to help you manage motion sickness.

A popular option available in Singapore is antihistamines, a medication used to counter symptoms of allergy and control nausea and vomiting. Common antihistamines used for this purpose are dimenhydrinate and cinnarizine, which may cause drowsiness.

Medication-free prevention methods

If popping a pill is not for you, you can try the following methods.

  • Always try to choose seats in the middle of the boat or plane for minimal movement
  • Use a pillow or headrest to minimise head movements
  • Always look at the horizon, and do not read or play games
  • Avoid staying below the deck when on board a ship. Remember to keep eyes fixed on motionless surroundings
  • Relax by listening to music
  • Avoid having large meals or alcohol before travelling
  • On a road trip, you may want to take over the wheel if you can drive


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