Don't Let Motion Sickness Get You Down

Planning a getaway this summer? Maybe you’re contemplating a little cruise on the Atlantic, a cross-country car trip, or maybe your plans involve a long international plane ride. You packed some snacks, put together a CD playlist, the kids have their iPod, and you even googled travel games on the computer in case the Wi-Fi goes out. You’ve done everything you can to make sure the trip goes off without a hitch. But, as they say, it’s all fun and games, until someone gets motion sickness.

What is Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness may go right up there with deja vu when it comes to examples of the human brain working in mysterious ways. While exact causes of the sickness, known medically as ketosis, are not fully understood, most experts agree that it occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages from different parts of the body that respond to motions. The sensory confusion creates dizziness, which activates the brain’s ‘vomiting control center,’ and the result of this is probably not going to be one of the more pleasant memories from your vacation.

Symptoms
The most common symptoms of motion sickness are; a general feeling of illness, nausea, vomiting, headache and sweating. Symptoms tend to go away after the movement stops.

Different medicines thrown on top of a table.

How Is It Treated?
If you want to prepare for motion sickness, you may want to put some pharmaceuticals on your packing list. Some of these medications require a prescription and should be taken before traveling for best results. The best medicines for reduction of nausea and vomiting are:

  • Scopolamine
    This comes in the form of a patch which can be placed behind the ear
  • Antiemetic
    This reduces nausea. Examples include ondansetron, or Zofran, and prochlorperazine, or Compazine.
  • Antihistamine
    Some antihistamines, like dimenhydrinate, Dramamine, and meclizine, Antivert or Bonine, relieve nausea, but they also may cause drowsiness.

If You Find Yourself in The Throes of Motion Sickness, You May Want To Try The Following:

  • Eat some dry soda crackers
  • Drink something clear and fizzy, like ginger ale
  • Get some fresh air
  • Lie down, or try not to move your head

Avoiding Motion System
Of course prevention is the best medication. If you know you are prone to motion sickness:

  • Keep your head as still as possible
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before traveling
  • Avoid eating and drinking during short trips
  • Avoid strong smells and spicy foods

Couple in a car.

In The Car
If motion sickness hits you while you’re in a car, try and sit in the front seat and avoid reading and watching TV.

In A Plane
If the plane travel triggers your motion sickness, eat small easy to digest meals before and during a long flight to reduce nausea and vomiting and request a seat near the wings.

On A Ship
Sea sickness is the most common form of seasickness. If you’re planning sea travel, your best strategy is to book a cabin near the middle of the ship near the waterline. Try and sit in the middle of the boat, get as much fresh air as possible and keep your eyes focussed on a fixed point on the horizon.

Other Methods
You may hear of the efficacy of taking powdered ginger capsules or wearing acupressure wristbands to prevent motion sickness. Although they are safe to use, there is no evidence of their helpfulness.

Do you suffer motion sickness? Let us know what you do to prevent it from turning your dream destination into a travel nightmare.

Woman holding head

Avoid These Migraine Food Triggers

CBS 2 news. The anchorman sends it over to Serena Branson the Staples Center where the Grammy Awards are letting out. A pretty, smiling, blond woman appears on the screen holding a CBS microphone. She opens her mouth to speak, but, rather than words, what emerges is a series of garbled, unintelligible syllables somewhat resembling the English language. The nation looks on horrified.

What happened to Serena Branson? According to later reports, Branson was suffering from a medical mystery diagnosed as a “complex migraine:” a unilateral, painful headache that can affect the speech and vision. Migraines are a debilitating condition affecting over 300 million people worldwide, most of whom are women. While there is no proof that diet triggers migraines, experts agree that certain foods can cause them. If you are one of the 300 million migraine sufferers, here are some things you may want to know about the food-migraine link.

Alcohol
Lucy Rathier, PhD and associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University, says, “If someone tells me that a certain food triggers their migraines, I’m not going to argue with them. They should avoid that food.” If you’re one of the one out of three people who say alcohol triggers their migraines, you should probably heed Dr. Rathier’s advice.

According to Noah Rosen, MD and director of the Headache center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, alcohol’s effect on migraines has been proven in studies. “People single out red wine or dark liquors, but unfortunately any alcohol can be a trigger,” he says.

Other Possible Culprits

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG is a food additive commonly found in restaurant foods and processed foods to enhance flavor. Studies find it to be a cause of migraines in up to 15% of sufferers.

Caffeine
While some caffeine can ease the swelling that causes migraines, and is even an ingredient found in some pain relievers, beware of overdoing it. Rosen says, “if you drink more than 120 mg a day and you miss 60 mg,” it might result in a headache from withdrawal.

Caffeine

Speculated foods
Rosen puts cheese and preserved meats into a category that he calls, “speculated foods,” or foods that have not been scientifically proven to cause migraines, although many people claim that they do. Rosen also acknowledges that some triggers may be even less common, pointing out that two of his patients say that garlic triggers their migraines. Says Rosen, although “it’s not common, in these people, it may be the case.”

Is Food The Cause of Your Migraine?
If you get a headache within 12 to 24 hours of eating a certain food, you should consider it a possible trigger. The best way to target triggers is to keep a journal or use a migraine app. to track them. Because most people have more than one trigger, Rosen recommends taking notes on 20 to 30 attacks to best determine which foods are causing the headaches.

Once you discover which foods might be triggering your migraine, eliminate them from your diet for a month, one by one. If you notice a change for the better, you may want to consider cutting the food out permanently, or at least when your risk of migraine is highest. For women, high risk may be associated with certain times in the menstrual cycle.

Eating Regularly
It may not only be what you eat that is causing your headaches, but also how often. Rosen says, “Skipping meals and dehydration are both significant triggers. We know this from what’s called ‘Yom Kippur headache’ or ‘first day of Ramadan headache,’ since both events require fasting.” Experts recommend eating five or six small meals during the day, especially to those suffering from migraines

If you suffer migraines, let us know what your triggers are. You may have some valuable information.

Woman headache

Triggers For Cool Weather Pain

You may have heard the expression, “kill the messenger,” and indeed that may have been what you wanted to do when, on Groundhog’s Day, this year, the prognosticating rodent came out of his whole and saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. As American columnist and author, Bill Vaughn once said, “The groundhog is like most other prophets, it delivers its prediction and then disappears.”

Although many of us have our own reasons to wish for the early end of winter weather, it is especially understandable for those of us who suffer from cold weather pain. However, if you are included in this number, there may be some precautions you can take before you go on a bloodthirsty hunt for old Punxsutawney Phil. Here are some common triggers of cool weather discomfort you may be able to avoid.

Winter Air
The two main sources for skin hydration are healthy fats and moisture from the air. However, when the air gets dry, there is less moisture for the lips and skin to absorb, which can lead to chapping and flaking. Lip licking can exacerbate the problem and lead to cold sores and dehydrated skin can crack and even bleed, leading to possible infection.

Barbara Doty, MD and family physician says, “Develop the habit of caring for your skin on a daily basis. Have easy access to lip balm, use a good moisturizer, and avoid excessive use of soap.”

Woman shovelling snow

Shoveling Snow
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, about 11,500 people are treated for snow shoveling injuries yearly, and the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. Sandra Fryhofer, MD explains, “Shoveling puts strain on your heart. If you have heart problem get someone else to do it.”

However, even if your heart is in good condition, you need to take precautions. Fryhofer suggests waterproof shoes and an ergonomically designed shovel, which is lightweight and has a curved shaft to help keep your back straight when you use it, Dr. Doty advises that you, “Pick up smaller portions of snow for less weight per shovel.” It is also best to use your legs rather than your back to lift and to shovel in both directions, rather than in one, to avoid strain.

Dark Days
Headaches are signs of seasonal affective disorders. According to Laura Knobel, MD, changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines and less sunlight can cause a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to an increase of headaches in the winter and fall.

“If headaches are due to lack of sun,” says Dr. Knobel, “natural spectrum lights can make a big difference for some people.” She also suggests using garden grow lights to grow indoor plants as a relief from winter blues, adding, “Seeing the seedlings grow can give you hope that spring is on its way.”

Woman coughing

Dehydration
Dehydration is a problem in winter as well as summer. Not drinking enough water can make you achy because it prevents the body from processing waste products efficiently.

Try to maintain a healthy water intake by sticking to plain water rather than warm caffeinated drinks, like black and green tea or water. Dr, Doty warns against caffeinated beverages, “which are diuretics,” and leave bodies at a hydration deficit.

Colds
Of course one of the biggest causes of winter pain is the common cold, or flu, and the dry air can make it worse. Doty says, “In winter, nasal passages get plugged more easily, and with a lot more mucus, it can get irritated down in the back of your throat, which means you can’t clear it as well.” To avoid sickness, get your annual flu shot if you haven’t already and try natural remedies and get plenty of rest to soothe symptoms.

Are you thinking of throwing rocks at the groundhog? If so, we want to hear from you. What are your most common cold weather pain triggers and how do you avoid them? Let us know!