Mastering motion sickness

Last month I traveled to Bellingham to help one of my sisters who needed hip replacement surgery. Most of the 4-hour drive was on an interstate highway.
The final 20 miles weren't. Instead, the narrow road wound back and forth simultaneously as it rose and dipped. Roads like these always triggered my motion sickness. As a child in the back seat of our station wagon, I always managed to lose my lunch over a  particularly twisty section of road between Aberdeen and Ocean Shores, Washington.
When I heard that my youngest sister and her family were headed to Bellingham to visit Sara, I joked about feeling queasy just driving that rural road. And found out that my 19-year-old niece also suffers from motion sickness.
For some people, acupressure helps. For example, activating a particular pressure point by wearing an elastic band around your wrist can reduce nausea. This medication-free approach is available as Sea Bands®.
Ginger is another natural option for motion sickness relief, as 500mg to 1000mg of powdered root every 4-6 hours. Ginger is available as fresh ginger root, capsules of ground ginger, or small chunks of sweetened, crystallized ginger. My personal favorite form is crystallized ginger.
Using my apothecary scale leftover from pharmacy school, I found the best results when taking chunks of crystallized ginger the size of a full-strength aspirin tablet. Unfortunately, ginger ale, ginger tea, and ginger flavored gum don't have enough ginger to provide reliable relief.
Dramamine® for motion sickness is a popular non-prescription remedy. Be careful, however; Dramamine® has two different formulas: an original and a “less drowsy” version.
The original version of Dramamine® contains dimenhydrinate, a close cousin of diphenhydramine (Benadryl®). Dimenhydrinate often causes drowsiness and needs to be taken frequently every 4-6 hours.
The last time I took Dramamine®’s original formula for motion sickness was on a flight home from Orlando to Seattle. After crossing 3 time zones going westbound, I lost track of time, and it wore off just when I needed it most.
Meclizine is my preferred motion sickness remedy. You can buy it 3 ways: Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, Bonine®, and generic meclizine tablets., all without a prescription. I just bought another bottle of the 25mg chewable tablets of meclizine earlier today to refill my supply, at about $7.00 for 100 tablets. If you are concerned about drowsiness, try taking ½ pill or choose the lower strength of meclizine, 12.5mg tablets.
I never leave home without chewable meclizine 25mg tablets. It's inexpensive, chewable, and rarely causes drowsiness. Best of all, one dose lasts 24 hours!
For more relief, you can try adding ginger or acupressure to meclizine. Avoid taking Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) and dimenhydrinate (the original Dramamine®) together. This combination can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.
If either meclizine or dimenhydrinate plus ginger and Sea-Bands® doesn’t help you, ask your doctor about a prescription for scopolamine patches. Although it is more potent than Dramamine® or Bonine®, scopolamine has more side effects.
Scopolamine patches (Transderm Scop®) are worn behind your ear for 2-3 days at a time. They can cause fatigue, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and urinary retention.
Here are 5 Tips on Mastering Motion Sickness:
1.Face forward.
If possible, sit facing forward on cars, trains, boats, and roller coasters to reduce motion sickness symptoms.
2.Keep cool.
Sit or stand where you get fresh air or a cool breeze. Getting too warm always makes my motion sickness worse, so I wear layers to avoid getting overheated.
3.Be prepared.
Motion sickness medicine takes time to work and is most effective when taken as a preventative. You should take motion-sickness remedies at least 30 minutes before experiencing the motion of a boat, car, or plane. Don’t forget to re-dose as needed.
When taking short-acting nausea medicines like ginger or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®), always bring another dose with you. Then, if your outing is delayed, you can repeat it before the first dose wears off. (Trust me!)
4.Choose meclizine.
When picking out motion-sickness medicine, watch out! There are two formulas of the motion sickness medicine Dramamine®, always placed side by side on the shelf. I strongly recommend meclizine, which works for 24 hours. Meclizine is the ingredient in Bonine® and Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, and generic costs less than brand name versions.
5.Meclizine works for dogs, too.
If your dog gets carsick, meclizine can help. For most dogs, the dose is 25mg once daily; if your dog weighs less than 20lb or already takes medication, please check with your veterinarian first.
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 40-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Get clear answers to your medication questions at her website and blog® 2021 Louise Achey

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