Health tips: motion sickness

Dr. Tomas Jelinek leads Berlin’s centre for travel and tropical medicine. ( | Foto: Archiv
Dr. Tomas Jelinek leads Berlin’s centre for travel and tropical medicine. ( | Foto: Archiv
In the car on the cruise ship: Prof. Dr. Tomas Jelinek has got health tips to prevent motion sickness

Motion and sea sickness is a kinetosis, meaning a sickness of movement. The reason lies in a communication problem in the brain: On a ship as well as in a moving car, the receptors of the body which inform the brain about the position of the human being in a particular area send differnet signals. Whilst the eyes signal a standstill, the balance system in the inner ear and the pressure receptors in the tissue convey information about movement. Especially amongst children, the result will lead to vertigo, headaches, nausea, vomiting, a sensation of great insecurity and even a fear of death. Typically, the degree of sensitivity diminishes with age. But adults can also become sick due to sufficiently powerfull movements (such as on a ship).

Motion sickness: countermeasure

Active participation with the movement acts as a countermeasure: for example, when you drive a car or can at least sit at the front and look outside; or by taking charge of the tiller when on a sailing boat. Distraction also works: count other cars or trees on the side of the road, concentrate on a fix point on the horizon etc. The best spot on ships is in the centre, either very close to the surface level of the water or on deck (there is fresh air and the possibility to move around).

Acupressure helps for some people: When you bend your hand back, two tendons become visible in the forearm. The pericardium 6/Nei-Guan is located between them, a distance of two thumb widths below the wrist (inner forearm). Massage the area for several minutes. There are also special acupressure bracelets available.

Preventative treatments

Various forms of preventative treatments have proved effective. In studies, ginger tablets have show to provide a high degree of protection against sea sickness. Plasters featuring scopolamine and various antihistamines are also common. They do have to be prescribed by a doctor however.

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