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How can I keep my kids from throwing up in the car?

 In Ask an Expert, Pediatrics, Pulse Blog

Q: What can I do for kids who get carsick easily?

Motion sickness can make family trips miserable. While there’s no foolproof way to prevent kids from feeling ill, there are a few things parents can do to help ward off that nauseous feeling:

  • Have kids sit next to an open window. This can help keep them cool and provide relief from bothersome car odors.
  • Give them frequent light snacks such as crackers or pretzels. An empty stomach can make symptoms worse. However, avoid large, greasy, or spicy meals, which can be difficult to digest.
  • Make sure children stay hydrated.
  • Dress kids lightly and keep the car cool. Feeling hot can worsen an already upset tummy.
  • Keep kids’ attention outside of the car and avoid giving them books or tablets. Focusing on the horizon helps the eyes and inner ear send the same messages to the brain, avoiding the sensory mismatch that leads to nausea.
  • Try to plan long car rides when children will be sleeping.

Some families have success with alternative therapies, such as eating ginger root or drinking chamomile tea, however these remedies haven’t been studied a lot.

Finally, medicines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) can sometimes help, but they can make some children very groggy or sleepy. Consult your pediatrician to see if they are a good option for your kids.

—Calvin Chen, MD

Dr. Calvin Chen is a pediatrician at Vancouver Clinic. He believes in offering the best medical advice to families while keeping patients’ unique needs in mind.

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