How to avoid car motion sickness | AutoGuru
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How to avoid car motion sickness

Rachel White

Updated 11 Oct 2019

Rachel White

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I think we all have at least one friend who can’t handle a few fast, tight bends through the mountains for very long before they are asking you to pull over because they think they might be sick.

And you’d better be quick when that request comes, because once the spew doth ensue we all know how grim the result will be. Clearing up the mess can be a devil of a job and no matter what you do, the wonder of chunder will ensure that its less-than-pleasant whiff will hang around like . . . well . . . like a bad smell.

Motion sickness really is pretty unpleasant for all concerned and sufferers can be struck when travelling in a car, on a boat or flying in a plane. Some can even become sick while playing video games.

It’s interesting to note that, apparently, females are more likely to get motion sickness than men. In some cases, it can be more or less likely depending on what time of their menstrual cycle they are in. As if we don’t have enough to worry about.

So why does car sickness happen and how can you avoid your car being transformed into a four-wheel vomit comet?

Why do people get car sickness?

This is due to the brain receiving conflicting info from the inner ear, the eyes, the joints and muscles. The ears are sensing motion, but the eyes and body don’t sense the same movement, so the brain becomes confused. The result can be a whole range of disagreeable symptoms from dizziness to fatigue to vomiting. Nice.

Car sickness typically happens to passengers. It’s very rare to get car sickness when you are driving. This is because, as the driver, you are concentrating on the road ahead and what’s happening outside (at least you should be), and your brain is tuned in to all that incoming information.

It is said that negative thinking can bring on car sickness too - if people are expecting to get sick, they probably will - so if you know your passenger is prone to a bit of motion malaise, break out your energy crystals and get a positive vibe crackling.

On a more serious note, if you haven’t had car sickness before but suddenly experience it, this could be due to side effects from medications you may be taking. If the feeling doesn't subside when the motion stops, it’s time to visit the doctor.

Symptoms of car sickness

Passengers may experience just one or numerous symptoms when they are overcome with car sickness, here are common signs you may encounter:

  • Headache
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Retching
  • Moodiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Unable to walk
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

How to prevent car sickness

  • Offer to be the driver
  • Clean fresh air is the key - crack the windows and crank open the vents
  • Don’t look at electronic devices or read a book - look outside
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before travelling
  • Relax and be mindful of your breathing
  • Positive thoughts. Don’t think yourself into being sick
  • Sit in the least bumpy part of the car, generally the front seat
  • Natural plants and oils may help, such as peppermint or ginger
  • Over-the-counter medications are available (although these can have side effects)

What to do if someone has car sickness

Stop somewhere safe and get the person to walk around a bit. It may also help if they lie on their back with their eyes closed. If you have access to a cool cloth, place it on the forehead. Get them to relax and breathe deeply.

When they are ready to get back in the vehicle, have them sit in the front seat, open the windows and ask them to focus their gaze outside, directly in front of the car.

If you have a friend or family member that suffers from car/motion sickness be aware of their needs and ask them what they need to make the drive a more enjoyable one.

If a friend or family member has been sick in your car and you’re looking for the best way to clean your interior, here are some tips on how to super clean your car’s interior.

Thumbnail image: Polygram Filmed Entertainment

Rachel White

Written By

Rachel White

Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.