Conquer Air Sickness – Possible Causes and Prevention

Touchdown - IGI Airport, New Delhi (India)
Touchdown – IGI Airport, New Delhi (India)

Air Sickness can be the worst nightmare for a traveler. I never experienced even the slightest symptom of air sickness in my previous history of air travel until recently on my trip to Nepal. It was one horrible experience of my life and I swear I never wanted to sit in an aircraft ever in my life. Yet, I managed to get over this condition, undergoing a constant fight with my mind and all those air travel nightmares the entire time I traveled across Nepal and was able to successfully get back to India via air.

What is Air sickness?

Air Sickness is a sort of motion sickness induced by air travel. It affects the balance and equilibrium of body hence making us feel sick, nauseated and uneasy. The central nervous system gets confused because of mixed signals from eyes, ear and muscles leading to brain’s inability to determine body’s position in space. (Spatial disorientation)

Air Sickness affects women and children more frequently than men. If you’re susceptible to any other kind of motion sickness, it may increase your chances of getting air sick. Stress and fatigue are biggest culprits of air sickness.

So from my own experience, I’ve learnt the possible factors that made me air sick were –

  1. Fatigue due to long road travel on the same day of air travel
  2. Dehydration accompanied with drinking loads of coffee prior to flying
  3. Poor temperature control system of airline I was flying with
  4. My fear of heights combined with claustrophobia

So basically these not-so-big factors actually turned up against me altogether and I continuously felt cold sweats, headache, racing heartbeat and drowsiness throughout the flight. But instead of giving up, I decided to beat it and for that I prepared my mind every single day until my next flight. Again, a number of good factors combined helped me combat my air sickness that I listed below –

  1. Choose a bigger aircraft as it will help you feel less claustrophobic or not at all and you can set your gaze to distant point giving your brain a sense of space. Avoid reading during air travel as it won’t allow your eyes to move much hence the trigger of confused signals to brain.
  2. Choose the window seat especially the ones near to the wings of airplane that will give you a sense of motion.
  3. Always always keep yourself well-hydrated before travel. Eat light and prefer vegetarian food hours before your flight. Avoid alcohol at any cost. I actually had been on fruit diet a day before travel and drank around two liters of water within four hours before boarding my flight. It worked, really.
  4. Sleep is a very important factor. Avoid doing any hectic activity a day before your air travel and try getting around 8-10 hours of sleep at least.
  5. Lastly, as a preventive measure take some anti-motion sickness medication. I took ‘Dramamine’ during my travel for the first time and it worked well for me. It is better to opt for the medicine after consulting your doctor. Ginger capsules also seem to work for it, although I never tried it.

What to do if you still feel air-sickness?

  1. Keep drinking water, a lot of water. Trust me it’s the sole savior during air sickness keeping your mind and system calm. Carbonated beverage or lemon help a good deal if you feel nauseated.
  2. Try listening to soothing music and keep your brain calm. Stay positive. Take deep breaths. Think about the distance getting lesser and lesser while you’re heading towards your destination. If nothing works and you are still feeling immobile, try taking a little stroll in the aircraft. It will definitely change your frame of mind.
  3. Try looking out of the window and locate the horizon or look at the moving clouds. Engage yourself in a conversation; distract yourself in whatever way possible.
  4. Understand that this situation is temporary. As soon as you will land, you are going to be perfectly normal.
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