Extended trips by automobile, bus or ship can cause nausea and vomiting in both children and adults.
Known as motion sickness, or kinetosis, this condition can often be prevented by looking out the window and focusing on the clouds or horizon, said Lutz Engelen, Vice-president of the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists.
The choice of seat can also lower the risk. Someone particularly susceptible to motion sickness should sit directly behind the front axle in a bus, in the passenger’s seat of an automobile and above the waterline in the middle of a ship. Getting fresh air, breathing deeply and making regular stops are also advisable.
“If following these simple rules of behaviour are insufficient, over-the-counter medications for motion sickness can help. They are best taken as a preventative measure,” Engelen said.
Some of these medications are also suitable for children. They suppress the vomiting centre of the central nervous system.
“Drowsiness is a frequent side effect. This is often desirable for children, but it’s why people who are driving shouldn’t take them,” Engelen said.
Capsules or suppositories for motion sickness should be taken before the start of a journey. Medical chewing gum takes effect within a few minutes and can therefore be used after the first symptoms appear. As for herbal remedies, high doses of ginger extract help adults and children over six years of age but are unsuitable for small children.
Motion sickness is caused when the brain is “confused” by contradictory sensory information. During a trip by automobile, bus or ship, the vestibular system in the inner ear, responsible for spatial orientation and balance, signals to the brain that the body is moving. But the eyes of a traveller concentrated on a book or a games console perceive no motion.
In some people this contradiction leads to dizziness, nausea and even vomiting.
Seeing the passing scenery while focusing on the horizon, for example, can help to resolve the conflicting signals.