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Motion Sickness Earns a Seat Up Front

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Exterior view of car in motion


Even though I yelled, “Shotgun,” first, my friend insisted on a recent road trip that she was unable to ride in the backseat because she is prone to car sickness. Queasy by even the suggestion of vomit and of course, affection for a friend, I conceded the front seat to her.

And, while I believed she was exaggerating the scope of her condition, I know motion sickness is a real affliction, and it is a miserable experience.

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The experts at and explain that motion sickness is basically a miscommunication between the inner ear and eyes causing a variety of symptoms. The inner ear senses movement, but the eyes don’t. This failure to communicate results in unpleasant ailments including: an icky feeling all over, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, paleness, and sweating. Unfortunately, the best way to make the bad feelings disappear is to stop moving. A feat that is probably easier said than done depending on the length of the car ride or on how sensitive the driver is to complaints.

If stopping is not an immediate option, try one (or all) of these expert-suggested remedies: snack on a few dry crackers, sip clear fizzy drinks, circulate fresh air by opening the windows a bit, utilize the headrest to help keep your head motionless, look outside the car, and focus on a distant point or stationary objects. Now is not the time to play the license plate game. Focusing on moving targets will just aggravate motion sickness. If a passenger is really suffering, drivers should seek refuge at the nearest rest stop or park. A chance for even a small walk in the fresh air might alleviate the symptoms.

Since motion sickness is awful, taking steps to avoid it is a smart plan. and offer these suggestions for preventing motion sickness: before hitting the road as a passenger, don’t indulge in alcohol or a heavy meal and pass up eating or drinking during short trips. Before the engine roars, grab the coveted location of the front seat (if age-appropriate) and keep all electronic devices away from view—that goes for books and magazines, too.

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