Health Matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
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IN the first of a series of regular health columns by NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak looks at the perils of travel sickness.

Going away on holiday is one of the highlights of the year for many of us, but for some the experience can be spoiled before it has even begun.

Travel sickness, or motion sickness as it is sometimes called, can be the ruination of long trips to exciting places.

Travel sickness is caused by a conflict of the senses. Your brain is being told you are moving, but your eyes say you are standing still. This affects your sense of balance in the inner ear, with sometimes very unpleasant effects.

Some people suffer more than others, and children are generally more susceptible than adults.

However, there are precautions we can take to reduce the risks of suffering.

Avoid eating fatty or spicy foods or heavy meals before setting off. Pack peppermint oil or ginger tablets in your travelling bag – they reduce the symptoms of travel sickness and help to settle the stomach. Make sure you get plenty of rest, as tiredness can exacerbate the symptoms of travel sickness. Consider taking a travel sickness remedy – your pharmacist will advise you on the pros and cons of these. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.

If travelling by car, you are less likely to be affected if you sit in the front. If going on a long journey, try to take plenty of breaks. Remove anything that might be dangling from the rear view mirror – it could make you dizzy.

Make sure you get plenty of fresh air

If travelling by sea, sit towards the middle of the ship or boat. There is less motion there. Try sitting out on the deck so you can see the horizon.

If flying, try to get a seat next to the wings – again, there is less motion there.

“Taking your mind off” feeling ill can help. Listening to music is good as it provides a distraction for the brain, but reading is not recommended.

It’s also a good idea to have a drink to hand, but take water – not fizzy drinks.

Finally, if you do feel travel sickness coming on, close your eyes or, if you can, take a nap, as this can help to make you feel better.

Taking these small precautions can make a big difference – and ensure you arrive at your holiday destination ready to make the best of it!

More information is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/Motion-sickness/Pages/Introduction.aspx