Diseases & Conditions


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Carsickness


A type of motion sickness caused by the movement of a car, characterized by vertigo, sweating, salivation, nausea, and vomiting. Car sickness is caused by the motion associated with travel and can occur not just in the car but also in a boat, airplane, or any activity accompanied by irregular motion. Carsickness begins not in the stomach but in the inner ear, when irregular motion (such as in a car, plane, or boat) causes fluid changes in the semicircular canals of the inner ear, making it unable to maintain a state of equilibrium. The result is the symptoms of car sickness. Prevention Unfortunately, there are not any drugs that children can take to prevent carsickness. Those that are available for adults such as scopalamine are not safe for children. Children who tend to get car sick may feel better if they can sit high enough to see out of the car and look out the window. Scheduling a trip during naptime may help, as can scheduling as many rest stops as possible. Carsickness is often partly a conditioned response because of a prior experience—if children had a bad car ride in the past, this may trigger a queasy feeling every time they get in the car. Distraction can help, including toys and snacks youngsters normally do not get at home. (However, if the child tends to vomit on a car trip, a snack might not be a good idea.) The window should be cracked open, since fresh air will help ease discomfort. A queasy child should pick out a landmark on the horizon and keep watching that spot. Looking out into the distance will give the brain input about the fact that the car is moving and should help resolve some of the carsickness. Above all, children who get carsick should not read in the car. While it may be a distraction, it will only make children sicker because when they focus on a still page while moving, the brain gets the mixed signals that cause motion sickness.