Your health questions answered

What works for car sickness? How can I avoid in-flight DVT?
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Indy Lifestyle Online

All's well on the road

Every summer, my husband and I travel abroad by road. Our daughter is now six, and we'd like to take her with us this year, to France. But I'm concerned that she might suffer travel sickness. What are the best ways to protect her from this, in a "chemical free" way if possible?

Children aged four to 10 are the most susceptible to motion sickness, which is caused by a mismatch between the movements the body's balancing system senses and the visual images the eye detects. This is why reading or watching videos in a car make it worse. Sitting in the front seat is supposed to help, but may not be safe for a six-year-old. Try to break up the trip into short stretches of no more than an hour. Don't talk about travel sickness. Encourage your daughter to look out the window. There are anti-sickness wrist bands, but the evidence of their effectiveness is mixed. Ginger is also meant to help. If all else fails, you may need "chemicals". There is a skin plaster containing hyoscine, but it's not recommended under the age of 10. The antihistamine cyclizine is effective and can be used over the age of six. The dose is 25mg three times a day, and no pre-scription is needed. Good luck; your daughter may be one of the lucky ones who doesn't feel sick at all.



Plane thinking on blood clots

My legs tend to swell up on aircraft and I'm fearful of developing a thrombosis. Is it worth taking an aspirin before a flight? Are travel stockings effective? Any other suggestions?

"Economy class syndrome" is supposed to cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in long-haul travellers. If you sit for a long time with your legs hanging over the edge of the seat, the blood flow in your leg veins slows right down. The worst scenario is when a blood clot – a DVT – forms in the legs and shoots off into your lungs as a pulmonary embolus. If you're unlucky, the result is sudden death. Regular exercise of the calf muscles keeps the blood flowing. Compression stockings do work; in one study of air travellers, 10 per cent developed silent DVTs without compression stockings, compared to no DVTs in stocking wearers. The jury is still out on aspirin. Aspirin definitely makes platelets less sticky and this will theoretically make it less likely that you'll get a DVT. Don't take aspirin if it upsets your stomach, and don't give it to children under 12. Another idea is a small exercise cushion you use to keep your ankles moving; the Airogym and the Push Cush are both available on the internet and at travel clinics.



Please send your questions and suggestions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182; or email health@independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

Readers write

LS from Leicester speaks up in favour of blood pressure tablets:

High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you never know if your diet is good enough to keep it under control. I had a minor stroke six weeks after giving up tablets. By all means eat a healthy diet, but don't give up the tablets.

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