What are the symptoms of airsickness?

Airsickness, also known as motion sickness or air sickness, is a condition that occurs when there is a conflict between the sensory inputs received by the inner ear, eyes, and other senses during air travel. The main symptoms of airsickness include:

  1. Nausea: This is one of the most common and prominent symptoms, characterized by a feeling of queasiness or an urge to vomit.
  2. Vomiting: In severe cases, nausea may lead to vomiting.
  3. Dizziness or vertigo: Airsickness can cause a spinning sensation or a feeling of imbalance.
  4. Cold sweating: Many people experience cold sweats or clammy skin when airsick.
  5. Pallor: The face may appear pale or white due to decreased blood flow to the skin.
  6. Headache: Some individuals may develop a headache, often described as a dull or throbbing pain.
  7. Fatigue or drowsiness: Airsickness can lead to feelings of tiredness or lethargy.
  8. Increased salivation: Excessive production of saliva is a common symptom, often preceding nausea and vomiting.
  9. Loss of appetite: Airsickness can cause a decreased desire to eat or drink.
  10. Belching or flatulence: These symptoms may also occur in some cases.

The severity of airsickness can vary from mild discomfort to severe nausea and vomiting. Symptoms typically start shortly after takeoff or during turbulence and may subside once the aircraft reaches a stable cruising altitude. However, some people may experience prolonged symptoms throughout the flight.

Airsickness is thought to be caused by a sensory mismatch between the inner ear’s perception of motion and the visual cues received by the eyes. It can be exacerbated by factors such as anxiety, dehydration, and certain medications or alcohol consumption.

How do healthcare providers treat airsickness?

There are several ways to treat and manage airsickness:

  1. Medications:
  • Over-the-counter motion sickness drugs like Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) or Bonine (meclizine) can help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting associated with airsickness. These should be taken before the flight.
  • Prescription medications like scopolamine patches or promethazine may be recommended for severe cases.
  • Anti-nausea drugs like ondansetron (Zofran) can also provide relief from nausea and vomiting.
  1. Natural remedies:
  • Ginger, either in supplement form or as ginger ale, is believed to have anti-nausea properties.
  • Acupressure wristbands that apply pressure on specific points on the wrists may help some people.
  • Staying hydrated and avoiding heavy, greasy, or spicy foods before flying can reduce symptoms.
  1. Distraction techniques:
  • Focusing on the horizon (when visible) can help overcome the sensory conflict that causes airsickness.
  • Listening to music, reading, or watching movies can distract from the motion sensations.
  • Getting fresh air by opening the air vent can also provide relief for some.
  1. Position and posture:
  • Sitting in the area over the wings, where motion is minimized, may reduce airsickness.
  • Keeping head and body movements to a minimum can help, as can resting the head against the headrest.
  1. Other tips:
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoke before/during the flight.
  • Using air sickness bags if nausea occurs.
  • In severe cases, getting supplemental oxygen may help some passengers.

Prevention is often easier than treating airsickness once it starts, so taking medications prophylactically can be very helpful for those prone to motion sickness. If symptoms persist despite treatment, seeking medical attention is advised.

By |Published On: April 7, 2024|Categories: Diseases and Conditions|0 Comments on Airsickness|

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