Brief guide to...

Travel sickness
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Getting to that longed-for holiday destination can be a nightmare for the estimated one in three adults and children who suffer from travel sickness. It occurs when the organ of balance in the inner ear is disturbed by repetitive movement; symptoms include sweating, nausea and lightheadedness, headache and, ultimately, being sick.

While nausea is usually triggered by the motion of cars, coaches and boats, some people get sick on aeroplanes and even trains. "Even sitting in a rowing boat on a calm inland lake can make some people sick," says David Allen, a community pharmacist based in London. Factors that can help trigger an attack include anxiety, a smoky, stuffy atmosphere, a full stomach and focusing on nearby objects.

Various drugs are available over the counter to help prevent the worst symptoms. One of the most common is hyoscine (brand name Kwells, Joy-rides), which calm the nerve pathways that control nausea and vomiting. It is also available on prescription in patch form (brand name Scopoderm) for longer journeys. Another drug is cinnarizine (brand name Stugerone), an anti-histamine first tried on airline pilots. Meclozine (brand name Sea- legs), a long acting anti-histamine, is often recommended for longer journeys.

All these preparations cost under pounds 2 per pack (which usually contains 12-15 tablets) and are normally taken about an hour before starting a journey, although Stugerone can also be taken the previous day to achieve higher blood levels. Both Kwells Junior and Joyrides are suitable for older children. The most common side effect is drowsiness, although dry mouth and blurred vision can occur.

"Alternative" remedies include elasticated wristbands (Sea-Band, pounds 6.99), which are thought to control nausea by putting pressure on the P6 acupuncture point. Homeopathic preparations are also available, while ginger and peppermint are both recommended by herbalists: try eating a ginger biscuit or chewing on crystallised ginger. Aromatherapists advise a few drops of peppermint oil in a handkerchief.

Sufferers should also:

l Avoid over-indulging in food or drink before the journey.

l Take something to drink, such as bottled water, and/or something to suck such as glucose sweets.

l Stay on deck on a boat if possible, and look out of the window in a car.

l Avoid reading in the car - children are especially liable to be sick. Use story tapes to distract them instead.

l Avoid smoking.

l Sit with head back and eyes closed and breathe deeply.

CHERRILL HICKS

Comments