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Archive for Monday, November 16, 2009

Prevent motion sickness

November 16, 2009

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The flight or road trip is over, but you still think you are moving in a car or airplane. Motion sickness is common on vacations, but a few pre-vacation actions could lessen the effects of the nauseating problem.

Motion sickness occurs when the processes of the inner ear, which controls balance, are thrown off kilter by unnatural or unwanted motions like the sway of a boat or turbulence on an airplane.

Motion sickness usually induces vomiting and nausea when the vestibular system in the inner ear tries to adjust to the rocking or swaying motions, and the immune system cannot handle the adjustment.

Motion sickness tips:

• Focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. Don’t read.

• Keep your head still while resting against a seat back.

• Don’t smoke or sit near smokers.

• Avoid spicy and greasy foods and alcohol. Don’t overeat.

• Take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as meclizine (Bonine), or one containing dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) at least 30 to 60 minutes before you travel. Expect drowsiness as a side effect.

• Consider scopolamine (Transderm Scop), available in a prescription adhesive patch. Several hours before you plan to travel, apply the patch behind your ear for 72-hour protection. Talk to your doctor before using the medication if you have health problems such as asthma, glaucoma or urine retention.

• Eat dry crackers or drink a carbonated beverage to help settle your stomach if you become ill.

— Mayo Clinic

Cathy Ginther, a nurse at the Kansas University Medical Center, says though motion sickness is usually a reoccurring problem, anybody can suffer from loss of balance and motion sickness while traveling.

She says several solutions are available for people who suffer from motion sickness.

Meclizine is a common over-the-counter drug that helps with motion sickness. Ginther says people should take it a few days before traveling, but drivers should be aware that the drug causes drowsiness.

Other ways to lessen motion sickness include the Scopolamine skin patch that is placed behind the ear or Sea-Band wristbands.

“Try to do these things prior to the travel,” Ginther says. “It’s a little bit hard to postpone it if you’re already throwing up from the movement of the ship or car.”

Stacia Bone, a physical therapist at Kreider Rehabilitation Services in Lawrence, says other precautions such as looking at the horizon while on a boat, vehicle or plane and eating bland foods can help reduce the chances of motion sickness.

“If you are on a boat, you need to be able to see the horizon, because that is your visual cue for your body to kind of know where you are,” she says.

Bone also says having a window seat on a plane, staying awake to pop your ears and taking decongestant medicine can help equalize the pressure in an airplane — especially as it ascends and descends.

Though motion sickness usually subsides after a few days, Bone says some people do not recover and can suffer from residual disorientating effects that can last years. She says vestibular rehabilitation, which exercises the inner ear by desensitizing it to uncomfortable motions, is helpful with handling this issue.

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