How to Deal with Car Sickness in Children

    Car Sickness image, pic

    All kids love to travel with parents, but not everyone can calmly stay in the car till the end of the journey. And if you’re planning a trip, be ready to help your child to deal with car sickness (or kinetosis). How can you avoid this issue and enjoy your vacation as a family to the fullest?

    Peculiarities of motion sickness

    Physiologically, kinetosis is not a disease but a protective reaction of the body. A child’s system of coordination of the vestibular apparatus is insufficiently developed. Therefore, the body simply does not know how to properly react to pitch. And nausea and vomiting are the result of irritation of the nervous system by impulses from the vestibular apparatus.

    Children from about 2 years of age start experiencing travel sickness, which usually fades after they reach 10 years old, when the vestibular apparatus and neural pathways are almost completely formed (note that every child is unique and this process can take a bit longer or shorter time).

    However, there is a small percentage of adults, who suffer from kinetosis.

    Moreover, this issue is inherited. You should also know that girls experience motion sickness several times more often than boys do.

    What causes unpleasant feelings?

    Often, a child gets motion sick in a car due to the fact that the brain receives conflicting signals. Kinetosis is inextricably linked with the activity of the vestibular apparatus: the state of dizziness and nausea occurs when it is weak.

    A small child suffers from car sickness, because his vestibular apparatus still develops and forms.

    Our ears contain the organ of balance, which is a part of the membranous labyrinth of the inner ear. From here the signals indicate the direction or a person’s position to the brain.

    The cause of motion sickness is that both vestibular apparatus and the organ of vision give the cerebral cortex uncoordinated, unreliable and contradictory signals. It turns out that a child sees and understands that he moves when riding in the car, and his organ of vision tells the brain about that during the movement. But at this time the vestibular apparatus is sending the signal that the child does not move, that is, he is not physically active.

    Interestingly, children under one year of age almost never suffer from car sickness. This is due to a weak development of the vestibular system. That is why the signals, coming both from the vestibular apparatus and the organ of vision, are not so inconsistent with each other to cause nausea and dizziness.

    Signs and symptoms of car sickness

    The following signs and symptoms will help you understand that your child got travel sickness:

    – the child becomes capricious, because he does not feel well: he is sick, he feels dizzy;
    – pale skin;
    – increased sweating;
    – fainting;
    – changed respiratory frequency and heart rate;
    – attacks of vomiting;
    – headache and unpleasant sensations in the stomach.

    You should know that these signs are not always a manifestation of travel sickness; often, a child can experience only uncomfortable sensations.

    How you can help your child

    Fortunately, there are different ways to prevent and ease travel sickness. You should try them in the following order.

    Before leaving

    – All the time, train the vestibular system of your child: dances, swinging, doing forward rolling, jumping on a trampoline, and so on will help you greatly.

    – Use homeopathic remedies. These soft medications have no side effects and are effective in at least 30% of cases. Your doctor will help you to choose the right one.

    – Tell your pediatrician that the child gets car sickness. He will prescribe an antiemetic if nothing helps.

    – The kid should ride in the car well-fed and rested, because hunger and fatigue can provoke the malaise.

    – If you have the opportunity to choose the departure time, it is better to leave early in the morning, late in the evening, or at night. The fact is that the heat intensifies malaise and nausea. And it is also desirable that you start the journey when the child is sleeping: the malaise never bothers you in your sleep.

    – Place the child’s car seat in the middle of the back seat so that he can see the road through the front window. Moving trees and other objects seen through a side window can provoke nausea and dizziness.

    And what about a train?

    Neither kids nor adults are motion sick when riding in a train: a train car is firmly on two rails, which gives it exceptional stability.

    During a trip

    – Stop to rest every second hour: go out and breathe the air, it’s useful to stretch the legs both for the passengers and the driver.

    – Drive the car calmly, avoid jerks and sharp turns – it will be easier then for the kid’s sensitive vestibular apparatus to adapt to the situation.

    – Entertain the child during the trip: you cannot read books or watch videos in the car, but you can tell riddles, tales, and so on. It is unknown why, but when distracting from our sensations, we reduce the risk of the appearance of malaise.

    – Do not smoke in the car in no way: the smell of tobacco causes nausea. For the same reason, try not to unpack some strong smelling foods in the car. For example, if you hard-boiled eggs, it’s better to stop and have a picnic than eat them during the trip.

    Of perforce

    – At the first symptoms of the issue (it goes not just about nausea, but about the appearance of hypersalivation as well), have the child to take a good look at some distant objects. A try to look into the distance, at the horizon, calms the movement of the fluid in the middle ear. If this trick did not work and the child still feels unwell, stop the car. The state of malaise, worsened by the movement of the car, will fade as soon as the kid’s foot stands on the hard ground.

    – Coca-cola remarkably eases travel sickness. From time to time, have the child to drink it, to ease nausea and to avoid dehydration.

    – Offer your child a mint or a sour hard candy.

    How do you prevent or ease motion sickness in your child? Share your tips with us.


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