Thursday, July 3, 2008

On Motion Sickness

My 5-year old child became susceptible to motion sickness a couple of years back. It came as a surprise to us because we've been bringing her on long distance car trips since she was a baby. The first indication that she's bothered by motion sickness was during our trip to Lake Maggiore in Italy, around 500 kms from us. We were up early, around 4 am -- the kids (MC 3 years old, IC was only a few months old then) were not yet really awake, but we bundled the pajama-clad girls in the car. Then a few minutes after driving off, MC started to complain of a sick stomache. For whatever reason, I brought two towels inside the car, stacked between the kids'. I placed the towel on her lap and told her to open the window a bit; telling her to try to sleep.

It was quiet and I thought she was sleeping; then she burst into tears. She had vomitted and soiled the towel. We stopped at the next rest area. The tears was due to shock, she was upset. This was the first time that it happened to her. Good thing the towel was on her lap. We didnt have to clean up. She drank a bit, stretched her legs, sniffed some fresh air -- and a few minutes after that, we're driving smoothly.

She didnt sleep during that long drive. Not for lack of encouragement, but because she said 'I am afraid to be sick again.' She was also a bit uneasy. And begged us to go back home, despite looking forward to this vacation. But after an hour of trying to distract her -- telling stories, singing together, playing and munching -- she finally accepted that we are already on the road; definitely not going back.

It took us at least 8 hours - two hours longer, than planned. Because we took more stop that what was planned. But that was no bother -- the main thing was, MC enjoyed the ride. After a scary start.

What is motion sickness?Motion sickness is also
called seasickness for those traveling by boat; airsickness when using the plane and carsickness for those using the car or a train. It could swiftly start with a queasy feeling and cold sweats; that could lead to nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 'motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting signals from the motion-sensing parts of the body: the inner ears; the eyes; and nerves in the ankles, knees and other joints. Under usual circumstances, all three areas respond to any motion.'

When inconsistent signals are received and sent the contradicting signals processed by the brain arouses a reaction that tends to make you sick. A child who is too small to be able to look outside from her car seat would be easily susceptible; because the child knows that the car is moving through the sound, but her eyes and joints do not.

Apparently where you sit makes a difference. The car's front seat, the leading car of a train, a boat's upper deck on a boat or a plane's wing seat could provide a better ride. Try to focus into the distance; and avoid reading or getting involved with something inside the vehicle.

What are the symptoms of motion sickness? Asking the child wont be easy, they wont be able to describe what they really feel: the quesiness, the cold sweat, tiredness and lack of appetite. MC indicates motion sickness when she starts complaining about a sick stomach. The first few times we kept on asking her if she wanted to use the toilet! Observe your child; if she looks pale, more restless than ever; she starts to yawn and cry; isnt interested to eat even her favorite food -- then be ready, next thing you know, she's ready to vomit.

AAP noted that 'We do not know why this happens more often in some children than others, but it is most likely due to an increased sensitivity to the brain's response to motion. This response can be affected by previous bad car trips but usually improves as a child gets older.' This is true for us. Most of our long distance trips now are marred by this Lago Maggiore trip; but since we've been on the road, MC is slowly realizing that it was really not so bad. Though she's always ready with a towel on her lap; plus I have given her some sick bags which I collected from our plane rides. She's got them within arms reach inside the car. And I always bring a towel, just in case.

It was further revealed by AAP that motion sickness occurs most often on a first boat or plane ride, or when the motion is very intense, such as that caused by rough water or turbulent air. Stress and excitement also can start this problem or make it worse. MC and IC had both been through long flights from Europe to Asia and back -- they never had a problem. Of course, My hand luggage is heavy with pens and papers, books, card games and some of their favorite snacks. Dont rely on the toys on board, sometimes they dont even have any! And I am crossing my fingers that it would remain so.

How should you treat motion sickness? If you see the symptoms arising, stop the activity. Stop at the nearest, safest place possible when you are in the car. Let her get out, walk a bit or run around, if she's not yet so affected. MC always wanted a sip of water. Thus, long car trips would have to be planned with more stops. We have more or less noted via intenet the mostkid-friendly rest stops along the highways of Europe. Remember, too, that being upset and scared are natural reactions. Dont be angry or impatient with your child; she cannot help what is happening. The whole family must be helpful and supportive when this happens; to avoid the same problems arising the next time you took a trip.

How could you prevent motion sickness in cars? Car sickness is the common form of motion sickness in children, thus, many preventive measures have been developed. In addition to the frequent stops, you might try the following useful tips given by the AAP.

  • Place your young child in an approved car seat, facing forward if over 20 pounds and 1 year of age. Do not let her move around in the car. (You should not let her do this for safety reasons, anyway.)

  • If she has not eaten for three hours, give your child a light snack before the trip, which also helps on a boat or plane. This relieves hunger pangs, which seem to add to the symptoms.

  • Try to focus her attention away from the queasy feeling. Listen to the radio, sing or talk.

  • Have her look at things outside the car, not at books or games.
If none of the above works, stop the car and have her lie on her back for a few minutes with her eyes closed. A cool cloth on the forehead also tends to lessen the symptoms.

What are some motion sickness medications? Medications for motion sickness should be givento the child before taking the trip. Although the mediation usually dont need prescriptions, it is better to ask your pediatrician before using them.

Medications can help. Aside from making sure the child is taking the right doses, be aware that they often produce side effects, and AAP noted the following: 'drowsiness (which means that when you get to your destination your child might be too tired to enjoy it), dry mouth, and nose or blurred vision.' Skin rashes, blood pressure changes, nausea and vomiting could also be some problems faced. Drowsiness might not be the effect with some children, as it might drove them to agitation. Please be warned that the skin-patch-type motion-sickness medications should never be used on young children.

MC finally got a homoophathy bottle (Nux vormica D4) a month ago, after a visit to her doctor. We tried it on her once, on a 60 km ride to the countryside. I dont know if it was okay for her; because we also used the most effective anti-motion sickness we know -- playing word games and singing.

When should you call your doctor for motion sicknes? Here an advice wholly from AAP, 'although it does not happen often, dehydration can occur from the vomiting and poor fluid intake that may accompany motion sickness. If you feel that your child is becoming dehydrated, take her to the nearest physician's office or to an emergency room. If your child has symptoms of motion sickness at times when she is not involved with a movement activity, particularly if she also has a headache, difficulty hearing, seeing, walking, or talking, or if she stares off into space, tell your pediatrician about it. These may be symptoms of problems other than motion sickness. '

Some games to play while on the road:

- Touch the color - ask your child to simply touch an item inside the car; that has the color that you mentioned (Touch the color of red, if her t-shirt is red, then she can touch it); have everybody inside the car have their turn
- I see something that you dont see - Simply say the phrase 'I see something that you dont see and that is ( say the color) -- you simply add the color of the object the kids must guess what object you were referring to
- Song Salad- Start singing and ask your child to sing the next verse, and so on.
- Song March - you sing faster if the car stops and sing slower when it is moving or vice versa
- Find it - Just look around and the first one to find a chosen item is the winner. This game can substituted with numbers or letters, when they can already read or differentiate between them.
- Puzzle Game - Describe something and ask the kids to tell you what you just related. Let them have their turns, too.
- Tongue Twisters - Arm yourselves with favorite tongue twisters, my kids love the pinoy versions: kakabakaba ka ba, gaya gaya puto maya; and thinks that penpen de sarapen is also a tongue twister :-)
- 'bato-bato, pick' - involves a childhood hand game (bato is stone)-- these could be played by both kids on the back thought I also get my involved by using the vanity mirror or the side mirror (not when you are the one driving, of course). I am sure most of you knows this game :-)

And a good find; a backseat bag for kids to store some of their fave toys on to play with during the whole trip.

Have a nice trip!

This was first posted at PMN:Travel


Weng Zaballa said...

hi mommy raq!

so far, my little one don't have motion sickness. in fact, she loves out-of-town trips. we've traveled as far as Manila-Sorsogon (bicol)but didnt complain about the 12-hour travel time. :)

sana ma-outgrow na ni MC ang motion sickness.

have a nice weekend!

Anonymous said...

that's very interesting and thanks for the tips. maybe the feeling of motion sickness is like when one is "naglilihi", such a very uncomfortable feeling.

hope all's with you all! take care always

Daisy said...

Have you tried the accupressure wristbands? I bought a pair for a recent trip and they worked well for me. They're drug-free, too.

Analyse said...

Louna's never been sick while travelling.. that's a good info that it could still change.. i've read the whole article, when that time comes, ill know what to do.. and yes, the towel inside the car.. nevere thought of that, thanks ;)

Anonymous said...

Mary occasionally gets car sick. We've learned to make sure she does not have a heavy meal before travelling (so if she does feel sick, there's not much to up-chuck). Also, I keep plastic grocery bags in the seat pocket of every car, just in case. Then, if we go on a planned long trip, I would bring along a small bucket (like, a big soda cup) lined with plastic bag within Mary's reach. She knows when she feels like she would vomit and having the container on hand comforts her as well as me. Better if the container has a lid, so if she does vomit, we would just tie off the bag, keep in the container, close it up, wipe her mouth with a tissue and not have to get panicked looking for a rest stop.

haze said...

The problem is not the kids, it's me! I always take medicine with me because I am always sick in all sorts of transpo (hassle). But these are helpful tips Raq, noted if in case, thanks a lot !

raqgold said...

wena, glad to hear that. MC is better now, and am glad about that!

sexymom, we're doing okay here :) and you are right, that's the same feeling as naglilihi!

daisy, it's the first time i heard of that wristband. i dont know if they are available in europe though.

analyse, that is good to hear that she's okay with long rides but you see, MC started having these motion sickness when she was around 3 years old!

marysmom, that's a great idea having those containers with lids on, practical! thanks for sharing.

haze, pareho lang tayo! i always make sure i have some strong bonbons with me when we go for long rides and it helps already.