Ever wonder why reading or looking at a screen can make a passenger’s stomach start churning? Motion sickness often happens when the eyes aren’t in sync with the inner ears. The brain is constantly monitoring the body’s position through input from the eyes, the inner ears, and the somatosensory system, which informs a person about her environment through touch and the position and movement of body parts, says Susan S. Blum, M.D., M.P.H., the founder and director of the Blum Center for Health, in Rye Brook, New York.
“When you walk, your brain can easily estimate how you’re supposed to hold your head because it’s getting the appropriate feedback from your legs and eyes,” says Blum. “But when a car is moving your body and you’re looking at something stationary, like a book, the mismatch of information can cause you to feel nauseated.” If you or your kids are carsick-prone but simply must read or watch a movie, keep the book or the device at eye level and take periodic breaks to glance out the window. This will recalibrate the signals between the eyes and the brain.
If you start to feel sick, look out the front windshield or move to the front seat and stare at the horizon so your eyes won’t be met with landscape that’s whip- ping by. Blum recommends ginger, which studies have shown eases motion sickness in naval cadets at sea. She also suggests this acupressure technique: Using your thumb, apply pressure to the underside of your wrist, about two inches below your palm and between the two tendons. (This is the principle behind the acupuncture wristband Sea-Bands; $11 at drugstores.) If these measures don’t work, one over-the-counter remedy is Bonine ($5 for a package of eight, at drugstores), a chewable motion-sickness tablet thought to be less sedating than Dramamine.