My parents used to make a joke about how I'm allergic to the luxury of owning a car because I can barely breathe in one. Growing up, I entered my dad's car mostly on Sundays to church and it was my longest ride of the week. When in the car, I'd be very uncomfortable and feel sick. I couldn't explain it, all I knew was with the windows up and the AC on, I always felt my eyes get heavy, struggle with breathing and I'd have serious nausea.
I had several hypotheses as to why it was happening, the following was my list of maybes.
Maybe I was allergic to the car interior
The car interior was mostly made of leather and plastic and I experienced the same feelings when I was in other cars with this same type of interior. I hated the smell of new leather and plastic by the way.
Maybe it was the AC vent
I had read about mold allergies and how a mix of warm and cold air could cause the growth of mold in AC vents. I know most people do not clean out their car AC vents so I thought maybe there was mold and I had mold allergies. I had two symptoms peculiar to mold allergies- shortness of breath and chest tightening.
Maybe it was the air freshener
My incessant complaints made my dad stop buying air fresheners for the car, I couldn't stand them and always got a headache when it was in use.
Maybe it was motion sickness
Specifically, car sickness. This seemed like the most likely reason because all of my symptoms were that of motion sickness. I applied some tips I found for dealing with motion sickness that has been of great help over the years.
What Is Motion Sickness?
According to Healthline,
Motion sickness is a sensation of wooziness. It usually occurs when you’re traveling by car, boat, plane, or train. Your body’s sensory organs send mixed messages to your brain, causing dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea. Some people learn early in their lives that they’re prone to the condition.
Basically, with motion sickness, your sensory organs become overwhelmed and face difficulty relaying information about your movement to your brain. Now your brain can't really tell if you're moving or stationary and this sends your system in a frenzy, hence, the symptoms that immediately follow. It is a common ailment that dates back in time.
High school biology teaches us that our inner ears control balance and the vestibular system comprising of the semicircular canals, saccule, and utricle is what makes this possible. This system relays information to the brain of things happening around us.
The semicircular canals hold a fluid that moves with the turns of your head. The saccule and utricle are sensitive to gravity. They tell the brain whether you’re standing up or lying down. - WebMD.
Sometimes the brain confuses all of these signals as your body feels one thing, and your eyes say another. Anyone can experience motion sickness and it is not contagious.
There are several symptoms of motion sickness common to most sufferers and they are usually immediate.
- Cold sweat
- Breathing difficulty
- Trouble maintaining balance
Motion sickness needs no professional diagnosis as the symptoms are very clear and people who experience it know when it's about to begin.
I get car sick every time but I have never gotten airplane sick. My mum gets boat sick but not car sick. There's no study to the best of my knowledge of motion sickness being hereditary. I have never been a boat but the one time I looked at a large body of moving water, staring at one spot, I lost my balance and felt lightheaded.
I've read about drugs like scopolamine that help with preventing the onset of the symptoms of motion sickness. I don't see the need to take a drug each time I want to ride in a car so I prefer sticking with other preventive measures instead.
Gradually, I was able to note the triggers of my motion sickness and found ways to deal with them. I still get car sick but I don't suffer as much as I used to anymore. These are my tips that work (car sickness only);
Stay away from the back seat. On days when I sat at the front seat, I noticed I felt way better. The explanation for this is that while at the front, you mostly look ahead and your focus is stationary. Unlike when you're at the back seat and can only look sideways. The movement of everything as you stare through the window confuses your balance and your body can't tell if it's you moving or not. This causes a stress release that presents as all of the symptoms experienced.
Do not try to use your phone or read. This is like an instant trigger for symptoms. I try as much as possible to not use my phone or read a book because I immediately get nauseous doing that.
Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps alleviate the symptoms so always have a bottle handy.
Open the windows. For my sake, the windows have to go down when I can't bear it anymore. Fresh air is always a relief and I can breathe better with the windows down.
Lie down. You can lie down or try to rest your head especially if you sit at the back. This helps the body gain a bit of balance again.
All these work for me and I'm open to other remedies except using drugs. I read about home remedies like peppermint and ginger and also, avoiding alcohol if you intend to travel long distances. There are also glasses made for people with motion sickness and if I ever come across one, I don't mind giving it a try.
Do you suffer motion sickness or know anyone who does?
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