Both my kids suffer from car sickness, the eldest is particularly affected. As soon as he turned three, he started to get sick on car journeys, and sometimes on coaches, boats, and planes. Last Chinese New Year we went to Vietnam and the four hour car journey from Ho Chi Minh to Phan Thiet was an endless round of pass the sick bag. The bumpy roads, lack of air conditioning and, at times, sheer terror, was enough to make anyone feel a bit woozy. Last summer, our trip back to the UK meant a five hour drive to visit their grandparents. As I would be the one driving, the kids in the back on their own, I couldn’t expect them to hold their own sick bags for the whole journey. So I picked up some anti-sickness tablets before we traveled. Suitable for young children, they contained anti-histamine, which would make them feel a little drowsy. The kids slept for nearly the whole journey, which you might think was a good thing, but they were also left feeling drowsy for quite a while afterwards. There must ways of preventing car sickness, without having to take medication.
Car sickness is a type of motion sickness, which occurs when the brain receives conflicting information from the motion-sensing parts of the body — the inner ears, eyes, and nerves in the extremities. Imagine a young child sitting low in the back seat without being able to see out the window — or an older child reading a book in the car. The child’s inner ear will sense motion, but his or her eyes and extremities won’t. The result might be an upset stomach, cold sweat, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite or vomiting. It’s not clear why car sickness affects some children more than others, and while the problem doesn’t seem to affect most infants and toddlers, children aged between two and 12 are particularly susceptible.
Some ways to try and prevent car sickness in children include reducing sensory input. Encourage them to look at things outside the car — rather than focusing on books, games, or movies. If your child naps, traveling during nap time also helps. Carefully plan pre-trip meals, don’t give your child spicy or greasy foods or a large meal immediately before or during car travel. If your travel time will be short, skip food entirely. If the trip will be long or your child needs to eat, give them a small, bland snack like dry crackers before you travel. Along with a carbonated beverage such as ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, this sometimes does the trick. Provide plenty of air ventilation, and try to keep the air clear of any strong odors too, like air fresheners. You could try distracting them by talking, listening to music, or singing songs.
If these tips are not enough, I’ve heard parents talk about Motioneaze. A natural remedy that contains highly concentrated herbal oils, including lavender, peppermint, frankincense, chamomile, myrrh, ylang-ylang, and birch. You don’t need to use it before you travel, as it gives quick relief, even after symptoms have started. You simply massage a drop or two behind each earlobe. However, my kids don’t give enough notice for this to work for us. It’s a case of “mom, I feel sick” and then they are. For older kids, who can convey better how they are feeling, it could work.
Hyland’s Motion Sickness is a traditional homeopathic formula for the relief of symptoms of nausea and dizziness associated with motion. With no side effects, it is safe for children and can be used in conjunction with other medications. The tablets are dissolved in the mouth before travel and during travel. Some people say it’s great others that it makes no difference. If none of these things works, for your kids, then medication may well be your only answer. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) is approved for kids two years and older, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be used for kids six years and older. Both of these do have drowsiness as a side effect. The medical practitioners I’ve spoken to about car sickness, have all said that unfortunately, non-drowsy antihistamines don’t appear to be effective at treating motion sickness. They did add that kids do tend to outgrow car sickness. Until then, it’s plastic bags at the ready, just in case.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.