Imagine not enjoying a drive. Jumping in the car makes you want to be sick, and the nauseating dizziness drains you so that wherever you were going is no longer a source of enjoyment, but an excuse to get out of the vehicle and perhaps throw up. For many people, motion sickness is a constant curse causing stress and discomfort even during the shortest of journeys.

Car sickness is also known as motion sickness, or kinetosis. It occurs when they eye sees its immediate surroundings as stationary, but the vestibular system senses that the exterior surrounds are moving - the discrepancy causes motion sicknessi. It can result in sweating, hyperventiliating, weakness, excess saliva production, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and vomiting; unlike most kinds of illness, vomiting usually doesn't make the sufferer feel any better. It can be caused when reading (for example, a map or book) and quite often people who regularly suffer from car sickness are anxious about it happening again and this anticipation can help prompt further sickness.

Car Sickness

There are many methods of curing motion sickness - some are proven, and some are simply old wives' tales. So what exactly helps a sufferer overcome their motion sickness? How can you prevent it?

One method to 'cure' car sickness is to have the sufferer focus on a point in the distance, in front of the vehicle. This helps the brain to recognise that is it indeed moving, and could calm down the nauseaii. Sitting in the front of the car will also work as the person can fix their attention on something in the distance and of course being an actual driver helps the mind focus on actually driving as opposed to feeling sick. If driving isn't an option then closing your eyes will do the trick for the same reason - without the eyes seeing non-movement while the vestibular system experiences it, the nausea should resolve. Similarly, avoiding reading in the car can help prevent it. Use a GPS fixed to the windscreen, or audiobooks that recite a story, rather than reading. Keeping their head still will settle the fluid in the ear canals and prevent or minimise sickness; encourage them not to shake or wobble their head.

Motion sickness often occurs in children from four to 12 years of age. With this in mind, try and plan to travel with children when they are usually asleep, such as in the early hours of the morning or later at night. While their eyes are closed they shouldn't get sick. Music instead of books will keep it at bay, and frequent snacking will help too - fruit or vegetable sticks will be nourishing and keep their minds off feeling ill. Make sure their seat is high so they can see out the front window.

Don't have a heavy, greasy meal beforehand and plan to snack on healthy, light foods. Foods containing ginger will alleviate nausea as ginger is a recognised antiemetic (prevents nausea). Ginger cookies, drinks and lollies are perfect. Peppermint works for the same reason so consider putting some in a peppermint tea in a flask to sip during the journey.

Fresh air works a treat, but the experts aren't sure why. If they can't get out of the vehicle, crank a window. Strong smells can make the person feel worse, so avoid perfumes, smoke, petrol and the like.

Of course, there's the things that have been floating around that people insist work - smelling newspaper or eating a dill pickle aren't guaranteed to work but there's no harm in trying if you're desperate. Putting a bandaid over your belly button is said to be a preventative, and wrapping a rubber band around your wrist is also said to help. Whether any of these actually work or not is unknown, but as always, people will swear by them.

Of course, if all else fails you could try one of the various medicines that have been designed specifically for car and travel sickness. Your pharmacist should be able to advise on the most suitable based on whether they are for children or adults and taking into account any existing allergies.Try many things and see what works for you. Even if it is 'all in the mind', that's got to be better than feeling sick!