July 31, 2006

Mummy, I feel sick: Travel sickness in children

The bane of any travelling parent has to be travel sickness. Some adults seem to be acutely susceptible to travel and motion sickness but it is especially so with children, mainly because they are unable to recognise the symptoms and do not know how to respond.

Any motion sickness is a result of the body’s disorientation due to conflicting movements. These causes and triggers for travel sickness are exactly the same in adults as they are in children, but some simple strategies and precautions can help you counter these effects.

Learn to recognise these symptoms
  • Tummy aches
  • Headache
  • Dizzyness
  • Burping and flatulence
  • Pale complexion
  • Vomiting (oops, too late)
  • Travel facing forward.
  • Look out of windows at a steady horizon.
  • Avoid rich, fatty foods like chocolates, milk and fried foods. An empty stomach is no good either. Try fruit, “suckers” and dry crackers with plenty of water.
  • Travel with wipes, old nappies and a change of clothes.
Cars, Vans and Buses
  • Don’t seat children too far back in cars and vans. The further back your children sit, the more likely they are to feel sick.
  • Drive sensibly and smoothly. No one likes to be tossed about as you swerve and corner.
  • Open a window at least slightly. Fresh air is important.
  • Stop frequently and let the kids run about.
  • Occupy your kids with games. Good old “I Spy” keeps them looking out the window and distracted. Sing or tell stories.
  • Avoid reading or anything that requires close-up visual activity
Boats and Ships
  • Going to your cabin isn’t always the best idea. Enclosed spaces can accelerate seasickness. Stay on deck, at the rear or middle of the ship and in the open.
  • When planning, choose larger ships. Small ships move about more.
  • Don’t let children overeat, especially at the beginning of trip. All-you-can-eat chocolate fudge icecream spells danger.
  • Encourage the kids to get involved with games and shipboard activities. Mind-over-matter works.
  • Seasickness usually passes after the first 24 or 48 hours of a voyage, so try and get through this threshold together.
Planes and Aircraft
  • Avoid flying with sick children, especially colds and flus. Ear infections will cause havoc with them.
  • The middle of the plane is the smoothest, usually over the wings. But remember kids can’t travel in exit rows.
  • Travel in the evening or at night and try to put the kids to sleep as soon as possible. You may have to carry them off the plane though!
Medication and Remedies

No parent likes giving children unnecessary medicines and drugs, but in serious cases, you can consider a carefully measured child’s dose of Benadryl or Dramamine.

Motion sickness wristbands work on the acupuncture theory and are without any side effect. At least try them.

Ginger is a wonderful natural remedy for many ailments. Try tablets, tea or ginger sweets. You’ll thank me.

Never use patches on children. No, never.

Image: KidSpot

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