Non-drowsy motion sickness remedies?
March 1, 2005 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Besides chemicals that make me nap all day, what can I do to keep from hurling on flights?

I travel frequently for business, often same day travel. If I take Dramamine or Antivert, I can't work on the plane, as I get too sleepy. And if I have a presentation right after the meeting, forget it.

If I take nothing, well, the embarassment factor and the discomfort is too much. Especially since I often travel with coworkers.

I'm desperate enough that I'm looking at those bracelets they sell in "Sky Mall" and thinking, "Well, that might work."

Being able to do roller coasters or the tea cups at Disney would be a personal life bonus.

Anyone with motion sickness found the panacea?
posted by Gucky to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If there were a panacea it would be marketed and available--this is the best link I found--Ginger works for me and is one of the suggested remedies:
posted by rmhsinc at 2:24 PM on March 1, 2005

Have you tried non-drowsy Dramamine? It works well for my sister. Other things that have helped: first, be well rested. If you're tired and get motion sickness, my experience is that the queasyness factor is upped by lots. Work out the day before, sleep well that night, and have a good breakfast in the morning. That brings me to the second point: neither a full nor an empty stomach will help you. Eat before you get to the airport, but nothing greasy, heavy or too acidic. Once you get to the airport, and have tried non-drowsy Dramamine, take it *before* you get on the plane. It often takes up to a half-hour or longer to work, and by that time, it could be too late. It's preventative, not a treatment. Third, there are other remedies, such as ginger capsules, pieces of candied ginger, raspberry leaf tea, pieces of peppermint or peppermint tea and chamomile which do wonders for some people. Again, most of these suggestions work much better as a preventative treatment, or during the flight, and not just as a salve once the motion sickness has set in.
posted by fionab at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2005

"Non-drowsy" Dramamine is the same thing as Antivert, I think. I've found that Antivert doesn't make me super drowsy, but I've never tried it in the middle of the day. For non-medicine remedies I like queasy pops, especially the ginger and sour fruit flavors. The motion, stuffiness, and alternating hot-and-cold air in the subway can really make me feel wretched, and I find the lollipops help a ton.
posted by redfoxtail at 3:00 PM on March 1, 2005

Wow i'm glad I saw this thread, as I'm a plane puker too. Ugh. i've been taking non drowsy dramamine, but it's not completely non drowsy and gives me cottonmouth. I'm going to give the ginger angle a go next time. Thanks for posting and the replies!
posted by yoga at 3:45 PM on March 1, 2005

I like Bonine. I expected it to make me drowsy, but aside from making me kind of mellow I don't get sleepy at all. It also doesn't give me cottonmouth like Dramamine/Benadryl does.

This stuff got my husband and I up and down a mountain in Mexico, traveling on a gravel road, sitting on the backmost bench seat of an old van with nothing to hold on to.

I also get vertigo above about 31,000 feet, and while the Bonine doesn't do anything for the vertigo itself when I fly, it does keep me from throwing up from the spins.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:07 PM on March 1, 2005

Although I don't get air sickness, I bought some motion sickness wristbands at my mother-in-law's behest for morning sickness. They did help a little. Maybe a combination of herbal remedies and the wristbands might work.
posted by tracicle at 4:17 PM on March 1, 2005

Forget about trying to get work done, I think.

Keep the head tilted to the side and away from level. It causes the brain to give less weight to inputs from the vestibular organ.

Use ear plugs.

Consider having your doc prescribe something like lorazepam or diazepam to knock you out for the flight.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:37 PM on March 1, 2005

Oh yeah -- do you really have to work on the plane? Trying to read is never going to help matters. I usually try to listen to music or This American Life episodes or whatever when I am in situations that tend to make me motion-sick. That has the double bonus of keeping me distracted not by reading and being essentially wearing earplugs, which I think helps some of the inner ear effect.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:59 PM on March 1, 2005

You might also experiment with position in the plane. I've heard that you experience less turbulence in the middle of the plane, although I can't speak to whether that's true. Or maybe a window seat in the first row of coach would make things better. You'd have a bulkhead/wall in front of you and the ability to close all of the windows on your side. Of course, maybe that would be much worse. A lot of airlines now let you pick your seat when you book the flight and the rest should allow you to pick/change the seat when getting your boarding pass.
posted by MarkAnd at 5:09 PM on March 1, 2005

Chewing on candied ginger helps me feel better when I'm nauseous. Ginger tea is another option, but a little harder to travel with, as you have to be able to get hot water when you need it.

My sister in law *swears* by those wrist bands with the little bump on them; I've seen her on car trips when she forgot them & it's not a fun ride.
posted by belladonna at 6:35 PM on March 1, 2005

Stugeron, another (antihistamine) relative of dramamine, has been notably less sedating in my experience. It's widely available in Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean, but not in the US (although you may be able to order it--I haven't tried).

Or if this is a frequent problem, you might try the bluewater sailor's combo of phenergan (prescription) plus sudafed. It got me from Grand Canary to Granada in three weeks at the height of the winter trades with nary a belch (and a bunch of other pretty rowdy sea miles besides).

But yeah, the bands actually do work for a number of people. I'm told the trick is getting them on tightly enough to actually activate the accupressure point (the button has to be in the right place). Since I'm a pretty determined puker, the times I tried them were not especially a success. Given their low level of toxic side effects, however, they're worth trying before the drugs.
posted by salt at 6:58 PM on March 1, 2005

I think working while travelling is a major culprit in aggravating your motion sickness. I used to get sick very easily whether it be in a car, schoolbus, boat, etc. My parents always got me to suck on hard candy and to absolutely STOP READING (which I was wont to do any time and everywhere). Both worked. As a plus, I also learned the value of quiet contemplation in travel.

I still use the candy trick (any sweet, hard candy, really) in present day. I figure the candy in your mouth provides a focus point, the frequent swallowing prevents anything from coming up the passage, and the constant low-level influx of sugar gives you energy, keeps you awake. Until recently, I thought it was just an old mommies' tale but the Merck Manual of Medical Information actually backs it up and provides even more advice.
posted by Lush at 7:30 PM on March 1, 2005

I have no luck with natural/holistic/herbal/blahblah remedies in general. So imagine my surprise when I first took a ginger tablet before a flight and I was rock solid through the trip. Others have recommended ginger tablets, and it's easy to dismiss that sort of thing, but take it from a skeptic: try it. It's worked like magic for me.

Others have also mentioned sitting in different positions. I sit with my elbows on my knees, and head in my hands. I can drop off to sleep that way, even in a middle seat, and it helped calm my nerves and stomach (before I started with the ginger). It keeps even chatty neighbors from talking to you, too.
posted by booth at 7:38 PM on March 1, 2005

Also, it produces pleasant-tasting burps.
posted by booth at 7:40 PM on March 1, 2005

I've used the bands with the bumps, any drug store for like 6$. I can fly in anything you got, but show me water and it's all over. They worked for me.

I can't remember the brand name, but they make a device similar to a wrist watch, you plonk it over the accupressure point you use for the SeaBands, and this thing gives off little electrical jolts. (The sweet spot is two fingers below the break of the wrist, in between the two tendons.) It comes with some conductive gel you smear under it to decrease the electrical feeling by spreading it over a larger surface area when it goes into the skin. This thing comes in two models, a cheaper one that's time-limited, and a more expensive one that just zaps you theoretically until it wears out or dies of old age or something.

Having some experience of electrical medical sorts of things, I can vouch for the fact it's an easy thing to build a tolerance for, and you very quickly don't perceive the sensation as electricity, it's more like someone tapping you on the spot every so often. This thingie is adjustable, so you can set it for your comfort level and tweak it up later. The biggest factor is just feeling that you can control it, which is no problem here, so it's psychologically very acceptable. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable to work just fine, they say. I haven't tried it, because i can usually avoid water almost completely, but if I were to sign up for a cruise or something, I wouldn't leave home without it. Since this is something you have to deal with a lot, it might be worth looking into.

The other cure I've only heard of involves dumping a local anesthetic ear drop into the ears, which numbs the nerve going through the ear, which in turn prevents it from upsetting the other nerve that runs next to it that causes the nausea. I read about this being used on sailors during World War II, and I don't think I've heard of it since. Maybe somebody knows more about both of these than I do and can offer opinions.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:53 PM on March 1, 2005

Here's one:

I'd forgotten, they've been using these for morning sickness in pregnancy, and nausea for chemotherapy.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:09 PM on March 1, 2005

I used to barf on planes all the time as a small kid. For some reason, my mother began giving me bubblegum before/during takeoff, and something about the sugar really helped me. So, try some sugary gum, (i liked juicy fruit) and just chew during takeoff and any time you feel sick. I don't get sick anymore but in airports I still buy a pack of gum before getting a plane just in case.
posted by geryon at 10:51 PM on March 1, 2005

I found that sucking on a slice of lemon helps. Dunno why.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:30 AM on March 2, 2005

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