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Thursday / 30 June 2022
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How to prevent car sickness

Motion sickness can make any car journey an unpleasant one, and it can affect certain people worse than others.

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to ensure that your time on the road is a comfortable experience.

What causes car sickness

Your body is continually transmitting motion-related information to your brain, be it from your eyes, ears, muscles, or inner ear – which regulates your sense of balance.

Motion sickness is caused by a disconnect between what your body is experiencing, and what your mind is processing, as these conflicting senses create feelings of unease.

Symptoms of motion sickness include sweating, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, paleness, irregular breathing, and, at its worst, nausea and vomiting.

For people prone to motion sickness, it tends to happen when sitting in a car as your body is stationary relative to the motion of the vehicle, but any changes made to the car’s momentum have a small delay before you experience them – creating a sensory disconnect.

As such, motion sickness tends to affect passengers more than the driver as the driver’s inputs have a direct effect on the actions of the car, and thus the driver’s body is in a better position to anticipate any change in motion.

It also tends to affect people in the backseat more than those in the front, as passengers in the rear seats experience more motion than those in the front.

Furthermore, rear passengers tend to look out the windows to the side rather than straight ahead, creating more of a visual disconnect.

The most common causes of car sickness are:

  • Your eyes processing movement outside the car
  • Engaging with something that has you looking down, such as a book or a mobile phone
  • Sudden car movements such as heavy acceleration, braking, or taking a corner at high speed

How to prevent it

Luckily, there are a few ways that you can minimize motion sickness, according to the NHS.

This includes:

  • Taking slow, deep breaths
  • Talking to the other occupants
  • Looking at a fixed point on the horizon
  • Breaking up long car journeys with regular stops
  • Breathing fresh air by opening a window or turning on the AC
  • Reducing the motion being experienced by sitting in the front seat of the car

It also helps to not eat heavy meals or drink alcohol before going on a journey where you suspect you may experience car sickness.

Finally, dissolvable motion sickness tablets can be bought from pharmacies, though it must be noted that motion sickness pills can cause drowsiness.


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