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How to Prevent Motion Sickness While Flying

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Have you ever sat on a plane and seen paper bags among all the magazines in the seat pockets? That bag is for you if you get motion travel sickness. It’s meant for use if you get nauseous and nothing helps in trying to keep yourself together. While some people vomit, others battle headaches and dizziness, some scream, and some struggle with a constant feeling that they will faint. Surely there have to be ways to prevent motion sickness while flying?

Thankfully, yes. First, let’s look at why you might feel nausea while flying or airsickness.

What Causes Airsickness?

Nausea is the result when the ears experience disruption from the inside. The nervous system is receiving clashing messages from the body, which shakes the body’s equilibrium. Individuals struggle to understand the position of the placement of their body’s location, which is also known as spatial disorientation. This lack of awareness causes confusion and a mixing up of signals, which in daily life happens quite naturally.

In other words, motion travel sickness happens when the ear sends different signals to the brain and the eyes see something completely different. This occurrence confuses the body, making it uneasy and nauseous. The mind cannot easily adjust to the situation. Any repeated motion that the body can’t register will disturb it. The result is instability in action.

Pharmacists at Click Pharmacy conclude that motion sickness while flying is a common phenomenon that affects the equilibrium of balance of one’s orientation. It is not something to fear as there are ways to prevent airsickness, such as taking over-the-counter medications. All meds must include dimenhydrinate.

Common Ways to Prevent Motion Sickness

These medications are best taken orally and consumed before you begin to feel nausea on the airplane. Another option is motion sickness patches. They may be used for anyone over ten years of age. Or, some people use acupressure bands. The band works by pressing into pressure points to calm the individual. But travel sickness bands don’t work for everyone.

There has been quite a revolution with science when it comes to how to prevent motion sickness while flying. There are even anti-sickness inhalers. By taking in a big breath of the scent, some people find relief right away from nausea.

Tablets, however, have an advantage by protecting the lining of the stomach while they also relax the body’s muscles. That way the body isn’t rigid if changes in equilibrium and altitude occur on the plane.

For some plane passengers, medicine provides a means to sleep during the journey. For many, it is difficult to fall asleep so over-the-counter sleeping tablets help to get just enough shuteye to avoid any overwhelming feelings of uneasiness. Second, there are options of antihistamines or anti-anxiety medicines; the latter might help with feelings of fear.

Please note though that medications for pilots are FAA approved on a case by case basis. That’s because motion travel sickness meds have side effects and the pilots have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders so there can’t be a blanket statement of use or not.

motion travel sickness

Your Game Plan to Combat Motion Sickness in the Air

Feeling sick while flying or getting airsick is a form of motion sickness. The key is to reduce activity and not to fixate your gaze on one thing for a long time. Also, while flying, choose a seat by the window. Watching the horizon eases the senses, keeping them aligned. And did you know that the front of the airplane experiences less motion than any other part of the plane?

The day before your travel, eat something light and flavorless as spices can upset the stomach. Also, try to avoid salty foods before a trip, as it will only contribute to the dehydration already happening while in the air. That dehydration comes from the lack of humidity in the cabin and a constant change in pressure.

Thus, it is always important to take measures to ensure that you don’t dehydrate during your trip. Statistics show that a person on a 10-hour flight loses about two liters of water. That dehydration happens because of the lack of humidity in the cabin air. So, the obvious solution is to drink plenty of fluids.

What to Drink on the Airplane

But as tempting as it may be to drink alcohol for a slight buzz, avoid alcoholic beverages as they can trigger or intensify nausea rather than doing the opposite.  Therefore, remember to pack your water bottle.

Also, consider drinking ginger – commonly known as ginger ale – before the flight. Ginger has soothing qualities for the stomach so it can help you feel comfortable. It is the mixture of carbon and ginger that soothes the digestive system. Moreover, ginger on its own is a natural remedy people have been using for centuries to prevent motion sickness. Ginger is readily available in its raw form, in capsules, and drinks, such as teas. You can even make your own ginger tea! If you can’t tolerate the taste of ginger, add sugar or mix it into a juice.

Two More Options if You Feel Nauseous

If you feel nauseous while flying or another travel method, another option is to focus on your breathing; breathe in and out slowly. No matter what happens, do not physically exert yourself as hyperventilating causes the body to go into a shock. The result might be a panic or anxiety attack.

Many doctors also believe that the amount of fear you feel contributes to nausea on an airplane. So, the day you are due to depart, try to do the following before boarding the plane:

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Take long deep breathes in and out
  • Another activity that helps release mental stress

Also important is to try to desensitize your body to any sudden changes you experience while in the air. Sit back, stretch your legs, and try to enjoy the flight. There’s no point in beginning your trip on the verge of vomiting.

Final Words to Prevent Motion Travel Sickness

In conclusion, take the precautionary steps that work best for you to prevent motion travel sickness in the air. If all else fails, find the airsick bag. Even if you don’t feel like you’ll vomit yet, it is better to be cautious and have it within reach of you, just in case.

Lastly, feel free to ask the flight attendant for anything that you need. A big part of their job is to help passengers feel as comfortable as possible. And when you prepare for your travels, you are likely to feel more confident in the journey and how smooth it will go for you.

Remember, the feeling of nausea doesn’t last but the memories you make on the trip will. So book that flight and explore a new city or even a new country. Happy travels.

Do you have any other motion travel sickness trips? Is airsickness something that you experience?

14 thoughts on “How to Prevent Motion Sickness While Flying”

  1. I’ve never truly experienced motion sickness or airsickness. I’m one of those people who can read in cars, that kind of thing. I’ve flown well over 100 times in my life, probably close to 200 now. I like your advice, though. When I do fly (not as often any more), I try to eat a light meal, sadly skip the coffee, and have water and/or ginger ale handy. I use the bathroom more than once in the airport. When drinks are served on the plane, I usually order some type of soda or ginger ale.

    Do I get nervous? Sure. September 11th was a big factor for me. The first time I ever felt truly scared of flying was my first flight after September 11th. I think it was Thanksgiving of 2001. I held my breath nearly the entire time, from leaving the house to arriving safely to our destination, I think it was Florida for one of the holidays. I finally relaxed when we arrived safely at our relatives’ house. I’m not nearly as nervous now, though.

    1. It makes sense that Sept 11 rattled you for flying, Laura Beth. It’s good to hear you were able to overcome that anxiety and now feel more at ease about traveling in planes. Given how much you fly, it’s wonderful that you don’t find it distressing at all – maybe even because you do fly so much you’re able to be comfortable more and more. I think Florida sounds like a lovely place to vacation!

    2. Thank you for your kind words, Christy. I’m fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to fly to so many different places for the better part of 30 years. My first flight was when I was six months old! Florida just happens to be the place I’ve visited most. So many memories throughout the years. We can’t wait to go back to a Disney for our five-year wedding anniversary in 2020!

  2. Thanks for the informative post Christy. I am flying tomorrow, just a domestic flight. But I get severe anxiety while flying, which then leads to nausea. I have never thrown up, but I always worry that I will, which is the main cause of my flight anxiety. These tips were helpful!

  3. Thank you Christy and to Daralynn for your comments. I have a longer flight coming up in the next few months and any tips and tricks are handy.

  4. I couldn’t resist leaving a comment. I have never saw any bags in the pockets on the plane for nausea. Let me share with you how I prevent motion sickness. First I eat a meal several hours before my flight. I’m usually in the airport 2 -3 hours before. I live in Atlanta and if you’ve ever been to Hartsfield Jackson International Airport you’ll know why. Eating hours before my flight will allow me to go potty a few times before boarding. When I board the plane I don’t eat or drink anything if the flight is 4 hours or less. If it’s longer I will not eat until it’s the last hour in the air. On take off, I sit up right in the seat, with my back erect and head up, eyes clothes and a silent prayer to Jesus. Never look around the cabin when it’s turning around to get ready for takeoff. The reverse of the plane can cause nausea. Look straight . Then once the plan is leveled I relax. Not having a full belly helps and try to watch TV with the sound loud until you have reached the 300,000 feet or whatever it is. LOL This keeps you from focusing on the motion. Noise cancellation headphones help. Such as Boise. Believe it or not its the motion of the plane and all thats going on that causes the sickness.

    I have hear people screaming and crying. I’ve screamed with heavy turbulence. Then felt silly afterwards. It’s always nice to have a seat next to a mother with a little baby, because a baby is a focusing point when motion sickens occurs. The mid needs to be redirected. I hope you don’t mind my comment. I love your blogs and I like interaction.

    1. Hi Daralynn! I love your comments so please never feel you have to say “I hope you don’t mind my comment…” ~ Your words are helpful, as Melissa wrote here and I second that! Having a focusing point and not looking around the cabin are very useful tips that add value to this post. Thank you! PS I tried accessing your posts yesterday and wasn’t able to get to them – did you take down your blog?

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