Summer vacation has started. These weeks we flock for longer or shorter trips in the car, plane or boat and that is not fun for everyone: one in three people suffer from motion sickness. Six questions about car, air and seasickness to ENT doctor Dr. Raymond van de Berg.
What exactly is motion sickness?
"Travel sickness is not actually a disease. You could even say that it is a normal reaction of the body to an unusual situation: movement. You do feel sick: spinning and nauseous, sometimes with headaches, sweating and vomiting."
What causes it?
"By movement. The body has various systems that monitor the position and movement of the body. For example, there are two organs of balance located in the ears. The eyes also participate. They perceive movement or stagnation. And Also in the rest of the body, for example in the back and feet, there are sensors that keep track of whether you move. "
“The balance organ of children is more sensitive. Although it differs from child to child. Another factor is that children are usually in the back of the car. There they cannot see the horizon very well. ” Raymond van de Berg, ENT specialist
"All that information is sent to the brain and processed there. Travel sickness arises when that information does not match."
Why do you often get sick when you read a book in the car?
"That is because of the conflicting information in the brain. Your eyes notice that the book is not moving. But the balance organ registers that you do move. The same applies to the boat or the aircraft. The balance organ registers movement, but your eyes do not perceive it. since you are moving with the vehicle. "
"The placebo effect should not be underestimated in motion sickness." Raymond van de Berg
Why do children suffer more from it?
"The balance organ of children is more sensitive. Although it differs from child to child. Another factor is that children are usually in the back of the car. There they cannot see the horizon clearly. On the horizon you can see that you are moving. better anticipate what is to come, a bend or a pit in the road. The better that succeeds, the less burden you experience. "
"That is why the driver hardly ever suffers from motion sickness. He sees the road, so knows what is coming and also feels the movement at the wheel in his hands."
Can it be prevented?
"Don't read a book in the car. Choose a low car with stiff suspension. Drink plenty of water, but no alcohol. Provide fresh air: open a window and avoid strong odors such as perfume and cigarette smoke. Sitting in the front also helps."
"With seasickness, stand on the deck where there is the least amount of swell. Or try to sleep. What is also very important: get rested on the road. Fatigue can make motion sickness worse."
"There are travel tablets and plasters behind your ears. These have been shown to work. There are also bracelets against seasickness and ginger pills. Whether those works have never been well researched. Yet many people say they benefit from them."
"The placebo effect should not be underestimated in motion sickness. It often works because you believe in it. And if it gives you more confidence in the journey, it is a good idea. Because anxiety and stress also encourage motion sickness."
Dr. Raymond van de Berg is an ENT doctor at Maastricht UMC +