Motion sickness has sent Dave Evans reeling from movie theaters, made him outlaw ceiling fans and kept him out of carwashes and off amusement park rides. But his most miserable experience came on a bus tour around the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
"The driver allowed me to sit on the steps of the bus," says Evans, 59, of Sun City West, Ariz. "Every time I was ready to unload my stomach, he'd stop the bus along the roadside and open the door for me. . . . It was the worst eight hours of my life."
Evans now takes a daily maintenance dose of prescription- strength meclizine hydrochloride, the antihistamine in over-the- counter motion-sickness medications such as Bonine and Dramamine.
His physical reactions to movement are extreme, but his ailment is common, affecting as many as nine out of 10 people at some point, studies have found.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 60 percent of kids traveling in cars or airplanes and almost all travelers in rough seas experience motion-related discomfort or nausea.
"Discomfort" is an understatement for what people like Evans suffer when the nausea center of their brain receives conflicting messages from the inner ears, eyes and sensory receptors about their body's position in and movement through space.
Licensed acupuncturist Laurie Perez says she has "overcome the 'green wave' " with Chinese medicine practices while traveling by planes, trains, automobiles, Indonesian ships and European ferries. Perez, a professor at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture, wards off motion sickness with methods that include pressing her fingers on the anti-nausea Neiguan point on her inner wrist.
Sea-Band and similar wristbands with plastic buttons aligned to the Neiguan point work on the same principle.
WORSE FOR ASIAN AMERICANS
Researchers, including gastroenterologist Kenneth Koch of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, believe genes play a role in motion sickness. While at Pennsylvania State University, he and psychologist Robert Stern for years placed a changing lineup of volunteers in a rotating drum to study their reactions to motion.
Asian Americans were "hyper-susceptible" compared with Americans of European or African heritage, they discovered. The Asian- American study subjects reported more symptoms, and many asked for the test to be stopped early.
- Take a light meal or snack two hours before travel.
uSit in a well-ventilated area. Look straight ahead, eyes focused on a distant, stationary object. In a car, volunteer to drive or sit in the front passenger's seat. On a plane, sit over a wing. On a ship, reserve a cabin in the forward or middle of the ship. On a train, sit near the front, by a window.
- Press on the acupuncture point known as Neiguan. It's in the groove between the two tendons about three-finger-widths below where your palm meets your wrist.
SOURCES: Acupuncturist Laurie Perez, Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
THE BIG NEWS
SHINGLES VACCINE OKD FOR PEOPLE 60 AND OLDER
A new and more potent version of the chickenpox vaccine has won federal approval to prevent shingles, the often excruciatingly painful disease that hits roughly 1 million people -- typically elderly -- in the United States each year. The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it licensed the vaccine, Zostavax, to reduce the risk for adults 60 and older. Shingles occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates after lying dormant for decades.
EPA BLASTED ON PESTICIDE TESTS
Scientists are being pushed to skip steps in testing 20 organophosphate and carbamate pesticides -- including malathion, which is commonly used to kill mosquitoes -- and other chemicals used in gardens, on golf courses and on flea collars and pest strips, leaders of a union representing about 9,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency employees said in a letter to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. The letter accuses agency managers and the pesticide industry of exerting "political pressure" to allow continued use of pesticides that might harm children, infants and fetuses. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency "has been reviewing" the pesticides under stricter standards imposed in 1996.
DIABETES RATE ON THE RISE
More people are being diagnosed with diabetes, but about one- third of Americans 20 and older with the disease still don't know they have it, the National Institutes of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
MORE FLU VACCINE ON TAP
More flu vaccine will be available next fall than at any time in U.S. history. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipate that at least 100 million doses, and, if a new company wins manufacturing approval, as many as 130 million doses of flu serum will be shipped.
ACHES & CLAIMS
Is there a benefit to using a tanning bed to get ready for summer?
THE CLAIM: The sun does less damage to your skin if you get a "base tan" in a bed.
THE EVIDENCE: Dermatologists say a tanning bed damages your skin and offers little sun protection -- about as much as a weak SPF 4 sunscreen. According to the American Cancer Society, the base-tan myth contributes to even greater skin damage because people feel safe staying out in the sun longer. The sun bears the blame for most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed every year in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 11,000 people will die this year, most from melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer.
Warning: One sunscreen application won't protect all day. It should be put on 30 minutes before going out and reapplied at least every two hours, more often if you're swimming or sweating. Here are some sunscreen tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:
- Use it daily. Even on a cloudy day, 80 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through.
- Use about an ounce of SPF 15 sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.
- Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wear sunglasses, long sleeves and pants made of tightly woven material in dark colors. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- See a doctor if the burn is accompanied by a headache, chills or a fever.
A. In fact, they may make it harder to shed pounds. The body has a built-in capacity to make pretty accurate judgments about how many calories it's consuming. Obese individuals, on the other hand, seem to have lost the ability to judge caloric intake, causing them to consume too much. Unfortunately, diet drinks may make this problem worse. Recent research indicates that diet drinks and foods mislead the body, causing it to misjudge how many calories it has consumed.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Diet drinks are part of the problem, not the solution. Avoid diet drinks and instead drink water or chomp on an apple or orange.
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