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Nightmare at 30,000 feet: Tips on not getting sick during your flight

Jul 27, 2012, 6 a.m.

If air travel is on your agenda, you should know how to avoid motion sickness. Air travel poses more problems than car or cruise motion sickness. You cannot simply go back to your stateroom or pull off the road to stretch and settle yourself. You are confined, in close quarters, to the aircraft, which cannot stop in mid-air for you to take a break and feel better.

Cause of Motion Sickness

Your brain becomes confused by the conflicting signals your surroundings produce. Your eyes advise your brain that you're simply sitting still. However, your inner ear tells your brain that you are moving. Your poor brain, unsure of how to handle this seemingly contradicting information turns to your body for answers.

Unfortunately, your body may react badly to these questions from your brain. You may start to feel dizzy, begin to suffer nausea, feel a major headache coming and/or endure the always-wonderful cold sweats. This combination of motion while sitting still can ruin an otherwise pleasant trip.

How to Avoid Motion Sickness During Air Travel

Choose your seat wisely. Sitting near the front of the aircraft or over a wing helps you feel less motion. Even just a window seat anywhere on the plane can minimize motion sickness as you can see the horizon. These seat choices help your brain reconcile the mixed signals it receives and calms both you and any air sickness symptoms.

Eat wisely before you fly. Avoiding fatty, greasy, salty and spicy meals may also avoid air sickness. 24 hours before flying is a bad time to try different or exotic food objects. Contrary to the theories of those fear flying, limit or eliminate your alcohol intake before takeoff. Do not have a six-course meal just before takeoff, either. Drink plenty of water, if possible. The water in beer, wine or ice cubes in a mixed drink does not count as water intake.

Crank up the cooling fan. That refreshing little cooling fan above your seat can also help you defeat air sickness. Move it so that it blows right in your face. As the air flow increases around you, this small fan can keep you calm as well as cool, reducing or eliminating the onset of motion sickness.

Wait to read that novel that's been awaiting your eyes. Sure, you've been dying to start that novel you saved for your trip. You might even think that reading will calm tendencies to suffer air sickness. Wrong. This is not how to avoid motion sickness, as reading can accentuate the problem, because you're staring at a fixed object (a page), while your body is actually moving quite fast.

Put pressure on your wrist. Wear a motion sickness wristband or apply pressure to the inside of your wrist with two fingers of your free hand. Many who suffer air sickness regularly maintain that this acupressure significantly reduces or eliminates nausea.

Read how to boost your chances of upgrading your plane seat, hotel room, or rental car

These tips are "natural" remedies to minimize or prevent air sickness. There are also over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as Dramamine and a scopolamine patch, that can also help relieve motion sickness. Avoid a 30,000 foot nightmare. Use these tips to avoid air sickness, helping to make your next flight a more pleasant experience.

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