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Problems with flying and airsickness

I love travel but hate flying and it makes me feel terrible. I am not very anxious maybe just during heavy turbulence. I think the air pressure affects me. I have a 9 hour flight each way to Europe next year going on a Rick Steves tour. Any advice or has anyone resolved this issue? I have tried Dramamine but it doesn’t help. This is a long flight to be miserable and sick the whole way.

Posted by
21857 posts

You are probably outside the normal reaction range. Certainly seek some medical advice. I doubt that the air pressure is the issue. A nine hour flight would suggest departing from the mid-west to the west coast. You might consider flying into an east coast city, overnight, and departing from there so that the flight is in the range of six hours or a little less.

Posted by
5 posts

I like that idea of getting flights over 2 days. I will look into that. I will also ask my doctor if she has any other medication to suggest.

Posted by
21 posts

I have better luck with Bonine for motion sickness/travel. It works for 12 hours and for me it helps. And it makes me tired if I am sitting for a long period of time so I get to sleep! I also drink Sprite and eat green apples to help my stomach. I think the lack of "clean" air circulation is also a factor of not feeling too well on a plane. You can also see your doctor for motion sickness patches that you wear behind your ear. I haven't tried these yet but have seen many people using them on cruises.

Posted by
2742 posts

It actually might be the air pressure in the sense of altitude. An airline cabin is pressurized to be equivalent to something like 7000 ft elevation. Rarely some people feel altitude effects at this elevation. Do you live at sea level? Have you been to Denver or other higher areas? If so how do you feel there?

So - general tips for altitude is stay hydrated, eat lightly, get plenty of rest.

I have found that dehydration on a plane is real and miserable. Bring a large bottle of water, drink frequently. Start a few days before so you are starting the flight properly hydrated. Get an aisle seat if you worry about disturbing the person next to you for going to the bathroom.

And try to sleep thru it. Talk to your doctor about melatonin or other medications to help.

Posted by
5 posts

I love all the recommendations. Thank you. Makes me hope that my next flight will be better than the last one I had!

Posted by
1023 posts

Ask your doctor about a scopalomine patch to prevent motion sickness.

Posted by
9917 posts

I'll also recommend you try to arrive a few days before your tour starts if you can. That will give you some recovery time and there is ALWAYS extra to see in the cities where tours begin!

I'm not sure if nausea is one of your issues but I always carry Sea-bands (accupressure wrist bands) just in case. I've never had to use them either in the air or on a boat but I feel better knowing I have them.

Other things for nausea are ginger - crystallized ginger travels well and so do ginger tea bags. Peppermint can also help - either tea, essential oil or candies.

Here also is a link to a Trip Advisor Air Travel thread where the issue was getting ill a day or so after landing.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k11220460-Days_of_severe_nausea_after_flights_Any_tips-Air_Travel.html

Posted by
1148 posts

I've had motion sickness my whole life, so I know how horrible this can be. So sorry. I've figured out a routine after some trial and error and can manage my symptoms as long as I follow my routine. For me, preventing motion sickness is easier than getting rid of the symptoms once they arrive. Try and figure out what your triggers are before your trip - I've found that sometimes the dread and anxiety of getting motion sickness can contribute to bringing it on.

My issues tend to be exacerbated if I'm hungry, dehydrated, or eat a lot of sugar before a flight. I take a double dose of Dramamine and eat something bland with protein, like a plain turkey sandwich, about an hour before departing. I also drink tons of water and avoid alcohol on flights. If the over the counter medication doesn't help, see your doctor, they may be able to prescribe something that actually works for you, there are a lot of options available. I also avoid reading on the plane since it triggers the sickness (I envy those that can read!). I find I do best sitting with my eyes closed listening to music in a half drowsy state (I wish i could sleep, that would solve the problem - can you sleep? do you take sleep aids?)

Posted by
1409 posts

If you believe that the pressure change is causing your discomfort then you may want to seek out a flight on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. One of the features of the Dreamliner is that it is pressurized to the equivalent of 6,000 feet vs. 8,000 for most other jets. Airbus has a similar sized plane in the A350 but I am not sure if it does the same thing.

https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-787-dreamliner-777x-cabin-pressure-jetlag-2016-9

Posted by
35 posts

Second the Bonine. I am prone to motion sickness & also sensitive to Dramamine, I guess. Even a small amount makes me totally groggy for 24 hours. The Bonine never makes me sleepy, but does very well at keeping me from getting airsick.

Never tried any of the other remedies, so I can't comment.

Posted by
13212 posts

If you can find a flight on an A 380, I suggest that. These planes are huge and very well-pressurized, and the flights we have had on them have been so smooth we barely felt any motion at all.

If the problem is sensitivity to pressure changes, not that these occur during take-off and landing. So breaking up your 9 hours flight into 2 shorter ones will only make the problem worse.

Posted by
808 posts

I've had motion sickness my whole life and found that the main factor is sinus congestion affecting the pressure on my middle ear causing dizziness. When we have flights coming up I make sure to stay hydrated well beforehand, take allergy meds or decongestants and prescription nasal sprays. If you're prone to sinus congestion you might want to consider that.

Posted by
22 posts

I have always had a queasy stomach and took dramamine on flights but even the non-drowsy type always made me drowsy (However, that is not always a bad thing on long flights). I have in recent years taken Ginger Root capsules (there is also ginger candy and ginger gum and ginger ale) and it seems to work. I have been using it on winding mountain roads and boat rides. It works for me. Worth a try. You can buy these online or any pharmacy that carries the "health" capsules.

Posted by
996 posts

From your post, I'm not sure what part of you feels awful. My other half has done MULTIPLE visits to the doctor b/c his ears can't handle take off/landings from certain airports.

While you should always first check with your MD, if that doesn't immediately solve the issue, you might consider the following

--Scopolamine patches. It didn't work for my other half, but it does wonders for certain people. Available in the US only with a doctor's prescription.
--Ear plugs. Not the kind that you use while sleeping, but something like Ear Planes. (Check on Amazon for various types.) Put them in before the doors close. You can remove them during the flight, but put them back in before the plane begins its descent.
--Valium. If all else fails, this keeps my other half from freaking out when the pressure variance upsets him. (Available in the US only with a doctor's prescription.)
--Pre-departure drink. This also seems to help. Go figure.

Hope you find what works for you!!!

Posted by
5 posts

I have noticed some things help a little. Drinking lots of water, getting some sleep on the plane if I can, and for some strange reason I always feel better when we start descending, probably because I am so relieved that it is almost over. What I am feeling through most of the flight is nausea worse during turbulence and feeling faint.

Posted by
141 posts

Motion sickness is a fact of life for me. As a kid, I threw up when we were driving through the entire country of Liechtenstein. LOL! Some movies can even make me sick - and three-D is a no-go. :( Dramamine can work, but the severe drowsiness is a bad side effect for me - must be taken in advance of boarding though. Bonine is okay, but doesn't work that well for me. I have used Scopolamine patches. Pros: they work for three/four days; no drowsiness. Cons: they dry out your mouth, eyes, and they negatively impact my glaucoma. If it weren't for the glaucoma, I'd probably still use them. I have not tried these anti-histamines: promethazine (phenergan) - mixed reviews, or odansetron (zofran) - my understanding is that the later has not been found scientifically to be effective for motion sickness, although some users would disagree.

I always opt for the window seat, preferably over or near the wing so I have a sense of where the horizon is - always keeping the shade open during take-off and landing and bumpy rides (even when it's dark out, seeing the lights, wings helps). This has probably been the most effective thing for me. The ride tends to be more stable and my eyes can catch up with my brain. I never sit facing the opposite direction of travel. I try to make stays inside the lavatory very short - when I lose sight of the horizon, the feeling is aggravated. I find ginger chews help settle my stomach and I carry them always. Ginger ale is also helpful. I drink lots of water and A glass of wine (helps me relax/sleep). I always travel with a full stomach - not uncomfortably full, but sated (I once made the mistake of flying on an empty stomach and had to be evacuated directly to the hospital on landing). I'm so grateful that people can no longer smoke on planes - that aggravated my symptoms immensely. I have tried the bands - no effective relief for me. I have mild rosemary mentholatum rub to put under my nostrils because really strong odors from others (perfume, b.o.) can exacerbate the problem. I always make sure I have checked for a disposal bag in the event of an emergency. A little hand held fan is also helpful for the sweats. As long as I follow these rules, I have been okay. Best wishes!

Posted by
509 posts

I have always struggled with motion sickness and want to add another vote for Bonine. I used Dramamine for many years and never liked the "hangover " feeling it gave me. Switched to. O I emailed and Haverkost never had a problem. I take one about 2 hours before departure, then a half of one just after we board. Eating something dry like saltines also helps.

Posted by
760 posts

My wife bought wrist bands about 30 years ago for motion sea sickness when cruising the Great Lakes on our boat. Since she got them she has never once been sea or air sick. The bands work on an acupressure point to attack nausea. We know of several other people who have had similar results. They have FDA approval and unlike drugs, there are no known side effects. The bands are available at most large drug stores.

One other thing I learned the hard way some 60 odd years ago while crossing the North Atlantic is don't skip a meal. I had a bad cold and our cabin steward said I should go have dinner because an empty stomach is a nervous stomach. Being a typical 12-year old, I skipped dinner and a few hours later I found out the glories of seasickness. Never again.

Posted by
231 posts

stegland55

Another vote for the scopolamine patches for flying. They do dry you out, so I try to drink a lot of water the first day or so once I land, but they are the only thing that always works for me for motion sickness on long flights. I also use Ear Planes during take off and landing to stabilize my ear pressure.

If you are feeling faint, it could be from breathing shallowly when you're nervous. You might want to try some deep or calming breathing exercises before your flight and use them when you feel faint. They can help relax your diaphragm so you can breathe properly.

Posted by
3353 posts

As always, never trust medical advise from strangers on the internet. If you are looking for any kind of medical solution, ask a doctor or a pharmacist.

That being said, if you think that a higher pressure in the aircraft helps, try to book a flight in a 787, A350 or A380 as they are pressurized to a lower level than normal.

But for vibrations and movement, try to get a seat as close to the aircraft's centre of gravity as possible. I.e. over the wing and in the middle, and, if you're flying an A380, on the lower level. Although for some people, being able to see the horizon might help.

Posted by
1148 posts

My wife bought wrist bands about 30 years ago for motion sea sickness when cruising the Great Lakes on our boat. Since she got them she has never once been sea or air sick. The bands work on an acupressure point to attack nausea. We know of several other people who have had similar results. They have FDA approval and unlike drugs, there are no known side effects. The bands are available at most large drug stores.

Thanks for info. I need to try this! Maybe on a short flight first.