What causes car sickness and how to prevent it?

What is car sickness and what are the causes?

There are many different types of motion sickness. Car sickness is the most common one that people experience when travelling. It is caused by the mixed signals sent to the brain from your eyes and inner ears. The resulting confusion as your brain tries to process these conflicting signals is what makes you feel sick.

What are the symptoms of car sickness?

Nausea, weakness, sweatiness and headaches are the main symptoms of car sickness. Sometimes these can lead to vomiting – for children in particular. It’s always wise to make sure you have plastic bags and some wet wipes in your car before starting a long journey with the little ones!

How to prevent car sickness as a passenger?

If you are susceptible to car sickness, you can help prevent it (or at least, reduce the symptoms) by following some, or all, of these tips:

  • Sit in the front of the car instead of the back. Try to look forward and anticipate what will happen on the road.
  • Ensure there is plenty of good, fresh ventilation in the car so that it doesn’t get too hot.
  • It’s good to have a break when you start to feel sick – stop the car, get out and take a little walk and you should hopefully start to feel much better as your brain ‘unscrambles’.
  • Avoid reading books, looking at your phone or tablet etc. as these types of activities focus your eyes on a steady view and confuses your brain even more, making you feel worse.
  • Activities such as sleeping or listening to music will help distract your brain and will prevent you from feeling dizzy.
  • Before any long trip, avoid drinking alcoholic drinks or eating high-fat foods.
  • Very importantly, keep yourself well hydrated during the trip.

There are also some natural remedies that might help prevent car sickness, such as ginger-flavour biscuits, drinks or sweets and peppermint.

If you constantly suffer from car sickness, we recommend talking to your doctor who may prescribe stronger remedies.

What can you do as a driver to prevent your passengers from getting car sickness?

As a driver, you can help prevent your passengers from experiencing car sickness by:

  • Driving nice and smoothly, making sure you break and accelerate gently
  • Avoid driving during peak times so you don’t get stuck in traffic
  • Schedule frequent breaks in your journey where everyone can stretch their legs and refresh themselves

And remember, the driver doesn’t usually get sick! However, if you do, you can follow the same recommendations suggested above with the exception of any that could distract you from driving, of course!


If you are interested in learning how to drive more smoothly to reduce the risk of car sickness for you and your passengers, click here for more information!


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