Motion sickness – otherwise known as airsickness – can be a real problem for some people when they fly. Don’t let the fear of motion sickness keep you from the travel adventures you’ve always dreamed about. Here are our answers to some of the most common questions about motion sickness on an airplane:
What causes motion sickness on an airplane?
When you fly, your body is working to react to varying signals of movement. The vestibular system senses movement in one way, but the brain interprets it differently from what your eyes actually see. Your eyes, inner ear, and brain are sensing conflicting movement, creating motion sickness symptoms.
You may feel:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue and yawning
- Chills or sweats
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, illness, certain medications, alcohol, anxiety, and stress can all make a person more susceptible to airsickness.
What can I do ahead of the flight to prepare?
There are a few things you can do ahead of your flight to reduce your chances of motion sickness symptoms on a plane:
- Eat a light meal the night before
- Stay hydrated, and fight dehydration by avoiding salty foods
- Fight digestive issues by avoiding fatty, spicy or greasy foods
- Don’t fly on an empty stomach
- Pack some crackers in your carry on to nibble on
- If you’re feeling anxious about getting sick, take time before and during your flight to reduce stress through meditation and breathing techniques
Are there any remedies or treatments for motion sickness?
- Discuss an over-the-counter antihistamine drug with your doctor. Dramamine, Bonine or Antivert can make you drowsy, so test them out well before your flight. Scopolamine and Promethazine are both prescription drugs to also talk with your doctor about
- Some say relief can be found by applying pressure along your wrist with an acupressure technique called nei-kuan P6, or think about investing in acupressure bands such as Sea-Bands to use during your flight
- Try aromatherapy – ginger, peppermint or lavender essential oils in a mini travel roller or necklace helps some people combat symptoms and helps them to relax
- Sippling chamomile tea can help to soothe your stomach
Does my seat on the plane make a difference?
Choosing the right seat on a plane can make a difference, and that doesn’t mean first class either. The more stable spots are above or over the wings around row 10-30, where you may feel less turbulence. Choosing a window seat can help, as watching the horizon sends equalizing signals to the brain.
What can I do during the flight?
There are things you can do – and things to avoid – that will help reduce motion sickness symptoms:
- Keep your body a comfortable temperature by dressing in layers. Increase airflow around your seat, and especially pointing directly on your face
- Fix your gaze on the horizon to help your body deal with the conflicting motion your body is feeling
- Ask for ginger ale and sip slowly – or bring ginger tablets. A 250 mg capsule, three times throughout the day you fly may help alleviate symptoms
- Avoid alcohol. It only dehydrates you and makes symptoms worse
- Avoid reading and digital devices – they add to the conflicting signals your body is already dealing with
- Stay positive and try to focus on other things, like listening to music or having a conversation with your travel buddy
- Find a position that helps, such as putting your head down or leaning back in the seat
Is air sickness a thing after flying?
Yes, it can be. The elevation may cause similar feelings of altitude sickness, breathing in denser oxygen, sitting for a long time, and changes in air pressure all may contribute to feeling sick after your flight lands. You may find yourself feeling tired and queasy, or experiencing a headache and other symptoms. The practices that help before and during a flight are the same things that may help you after you get off the plane. Move around, get some fresh air, eat well, and avoid alcohol.
No one wants to feel sick when traveling. You should have the time of your life when you travel, and we want that for you too. Try some of our tips the next time you fly – we hope they help you arrive at your destination feeling great and ready for adventure! Travel on, friends!
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