Motion sickness: Don't let fun go away as you holiday

New Delhi: May 13, 2019As holiday months approach and families make travel plans, one thing that can take the fun out is motion sickness which can be debilitating for some.

However, with little planning, motion sickness can be efficiently tackled, says Ric Day, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology from University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney which has pioneered high-end research that impacts our daily lives.

The perception of motion of any sort can bring on symptoms of travel sickness. These include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, excessive saliva, rapid breathing and cold sweats.

“The good news is, there are strategies and medicines you can use to prevent motion sickness, or to help you ride it out,” Day from the QS 45 ranked global University added.

Motion sickness can hit us on boats, as well as planes, trains, buses and in cars. Sitting in the back seat of the car, reading in a car or bus (trains and planes are better), facing backwards in a bus or train or going below deck on a boat in rough conditions are all best avoided if you’re prone to travel sickness. Inside a plane, watching certain movies can induce motion sickness as our eyes indicate we are moving, although other sensors confirm we are stationary. Medicines that control vomiting (antiemetics) and nausea (anti-nauseants) are the mainstay of medicines used for motion sickness and are effective. But as there are unwanted side effects such as drowsiness, it’s reasonable to try behavioural techniques first or alongside medicines.

“Desensitisation or habituation also works for some. For example, increasing experience on the water in relatively smooth conditions in preparation for longer and potentially rougher trips can help,” said researchers from UNSW, Sydney, that also offers programs in medicine and public health & community medicine.

There tends to be a reduction in symptoms after a couple of days at sea. Medicines can then be reduced and even stopped. Symptoms often return when back on dry land, usually for just a day or two.

Some people find wrist bands that provide acupressure to be effective, although when these have been studied in controlled trials, the proof is lacking.

A comprehensive review of clinical trials in 2011 compared the medicine scopolamine as a preventative with other medicines, placebos, behavioural and complementary therapies.

Most of the 14 studies reviewed were in healthy men serving in the Navy with history of travel sickness. Women have rarely been subjects, and there are no studies in children.

Although scopolamine was found to be marginally more effective than the alternatives, there’s not much to go on to recommend one travel medicine over another.

“If you’re somebody who experiences motion sickness, speak to your doctor or pharmacist,” said researchers.

Once motion sickness is established, the only option is to ride it out.

Lying down where possible, getting fresh air and focusing on the horizon can all help alongside appropriate medications.

Importantly, for prolonged episodes, try to keep your fluids up to avoid dehydration (especially if vomiting occurs).

“If you experience motion sickness for the first time, and if it’s associated with a migraine-like headache, you should seek the advice of a doctor to rule out other neurological conditions,” said Day. 

Apollo Hospitals and its education arm - MedVarsity – has partnered with UNSW, Sydney to offer a full-time or part-time through online Masters in Public Health (MPH) for students from India with intensive internship opportunities.

Located in Sydney, a safe and student friendly city, UNSW is home to nearly 60,000 students from 130 countries. UNSW has been attracting a growing number of bright Indian students for Undergraduate, Post Graduate studies and Research in Business, Commerce, IT, Engineering, Design & Architecture, Public Health and Medicine. 

As one of the world's leading research and teaching universities, UNSW's cutting edge research and innovation - facilitated by 3,000 faculty - is known for acceptance and successful commercialisation.

Deepanjali Behera, a Scientia PhD scholar at School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW Sydney, among scores of students from India enrolled for a research degree at UNSW to advance their research capability while working on truly transformative projects related to India.

The George Institute, Sydney that undertakes regular research projects is India recently concluded two on ‘Cost of Trauma Care in Secondary- and Tertiary-Care in Indian Public Sector Hospitals’ and ‘Economic Burden of Hospitalization Due to Injuries’ at PGIMER, Chandigarh’s Departments of Public Health and Orthopedics. 


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