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Motion Sickness in Children

Pediatrics and Child Health

Motion sickness can affect adults as well as children but is most commonly found in children. Motion sickness is caused by the brain getting mixed messages about movement or motion. While riding in a car the body and inner ears tell the brain that you are moving while if not able to see out a window, your eyes are telling the brain that you are stationary. The nerves of the body, the inner ears and the brain all work together for balance. When the brain gets mixed messages, your child might get motion sickness.

The first thing you’ll probably notice about your child with motion sickness is that she might either look pale or flushed. She’ll probably be cold and sweaty and have nausea which proceeds to vomiting. The young baby with motion sickness will usually exhibit unexplained crying and restlessness followed by vomiting. Motion sickness symptoms may start out being mild but seem to increase in severity with each car ride. Take heart though. Motion sickness episodes usually lessen in frequency as your child grows older.

Motion Sickness Treatment for Children

The first step in the treatment for motion sickness symptoms in your child is prevention. As soon as you have determined that you have a child with motion sickness that is about to have another episode, it’s best to stop the activity causing it. Sometimes this just isn’t practical or possible as in driving on the thru-way but if you can, pullover to sit for a bit and let the child get some fresh air. When taking long trips, frequent stops will be helpful. If your child is getting motion sickness from swings or other moving equipment at the playground, stop the activity immediately and move on to something that requires both feet on the ground.

A full stomach or an empty one seems to present problems for the child with motion sickness so giving your child a light snack and avoiding a heavy meal before a ride in the car will help. Redirecting your child’s attention is also helpful with avoiding motion sickness symptoms while riding in the car. Talking to him, singing, or listening to the radio, cds, or tapes will get his mind focused on something fun. Make sure the child can see out of the window and encourage him to do so rather than having to look down at a book or toy. Avoid wearing perfumes and colognes and get rid of that scented air freshener in the car. Fumes of any sort will intensify the effects of motion sickness.

Finally, if you have a child with motion sickness just be prepared for the worst case scenario. Always pack a bag with changes of clothing for your child. A plastic bag containing moist washcloths, a roll of paper towels and extra plastic bags will be good to have on hand (and always out of reach of the child). You may want to discuss your child’s motion sickness symptoms with your pediatrician who can give you more insight on prevention and treatment. Once again, remember that as your child grows older you will probably see less and less of the events of motion sickness.

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