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Sharp Health News

Does looking at the horizon prevent car sickness?

Nov. 23, 2015

Car sickness and looking at the horizon

In an attempt to avoid silly car games, you bring last month’s magazine along on your holiday road trip, excited to have some uninterrupted time to read. As the car turns onto the road, you start to feel queasy, dizziness sets in and your head begins to pound. You may be suffering from common car sickness.

The most widely known motion-sickness remedy, passed on from generation to generation, is to stare at the horizon. Dr. Camille Santos, family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, is here to say the myth is true.

“Staring at the horizon while in motion and fixing your eyes on the road while maintaining an upright posture will help you avoid getting carsick,” confirms Dr. Santos.

Dr. Santos explains why our bodies begin to show symptoms, like nausea, anxiety or cold sweats, when in motion.

“Some people are more prone to motion sickness, while others have developed a tolerance,” she says. “Motion sickness develops when there is a conflict in the function of your inner ear, vision and your neck or posture.”

According to Dr. Santos, these three aspects help maintain your orientation and balance. Motion sickness occurs when there is a conflict between what the inner ear senses and what the eye sees. For example, your inner ear may tell you “you are moving,” but your eyes don’t see any movement. These conflicting messages sent to your brain will affect your equilibrium.

Ways to avoid car sickness

  • Avoid a heavy meal before traveling
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Get a good night’s sleep before your trip 
  • Sit upright or use a neck support pillow
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes  
  • Wear comfortable shoes to ensure comfort and good circulation
  • Plan frequent rests to stretch and walk
  • Talk with your doctor regarding over-the-counter anti-nausea medication
  • Talk to your doctor if you have nasal congestion — clearing nasal blockage prior to traveling can help prevent motion sickness.

“I personally enjoy road trips,” shares Dr. Santos. “It is a relaxing time for my family to catch up and talk without the interruption of chores.”

Dr. Santos promotes planning your trips in a relaxed manner and following the suggestions above to help avoid any motion sickness and make your trip a memorable one. As for your dad’s singing — you’re on your own.

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