Skip to main content

Road Ready vol. 1: Common Travel Ailments And What To Do

Packing up and hitting the road is a generational rite of passage for many families. Most have fond memories of dad loading the Station Wagon, mom packing our suitcases and spending hours on the roads during our summers as children all the way up through our teenage years. Then we rinse and repeat with our own families.

But unfortunately more often than not those rosy tinted childhood memories stand in stark contrast to the unpleasant realities of what happens on an actual road trip when Murphy's Law strikes and what can go wrong ends up happening. Below we've listed the first 3 out of 5 of the more common road trip ailments and how to handle while you're on the go and away from your provider.

1.) Car Sickness

Nausea while traveling isn't so far fetched and is known to strike even the most seasoned traveler. Add in a few turns on a roller coaster or other higher intensity attraction at an amusement park and these can create even more concerns when it comes to motion sickness. Car Sickness is often referred to as Motion Sickness and occurs when your brain begins to receive mixed signals from your eyes and your inner ear. If you cannot see the motion your body's feeling, or conversely, if you cannot feel the motion your eyes see, then it is likely that the brain will get mixed signals and develop some aspect or symptom of motion sickness.

Signs and Symptoms

Uneasiness, cold sweats and dizziness. Some may exhibit pale skin, increased salivary gland production along with headache and fatigue. Nausea and vomiting occurs usually after the initial onset of symptoms.

Who Is Most At Risk?

Pregnant women and children are most susceptible, though anyone traveling is at risk for developing motion sickness.

How To Treat

Often the symptoms of motion sickness can resolve on their own given time. A doctor or medical professional is usually not needed to treat unless there is a chance of severe dehydration due to persistent vomiting. Usually once the motion has stopped the symptoms slowly decrease and then disappear. Some other ideas include simple changes to environment: getting out at a rest area and walking for a bit or even just sitting by the open car window. There are some OTC (over the counter) medications that prove effective and for some people simple home remedies may prove worthwhile. For example sipping on a light carbonated beverage and slowly eating some saltine crackers to abate the nausea.

2.) Heat Exhaustion and Sunburn

Both heat exhaustion and sunburn are results of simply overdoing it with our exposure to the summertime sun. A sunburn is usually indicated by hot, very sensitive skin that is painful to the touch and can mean being uncomfortable. On an interesting note sunburn can also lead to fever that should be monitored. Heat stroke, on the other hand, can indicate a more serious issue. Heat stroke can cause severe damage to the brain or other internal organs. It can also cause death.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Exhaustion, dizziness, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, nausea, seizures, and loss of consciousness. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Who Is Most At Risk?

Anyone can suffer heat stroke, but it especially can happen to those who can dehydrate quickly: children and those over the age of 50. Anyone who isn't getting enough fluids and has had a great deal of exposure to the sun is at risk.

How To Treat

A good offense is the best defense here, limit your exposure, keep your vehicle environment as cool as possible, avoid being too active in excessive heat or humidity. Keeping hydrated will also help your body cool as it's naturally designed to do. Sunburns can be treated with cooling lotions like aloe and ibuprofen can help lower the skin temperatures. Heat Stroke is considered a medical emergency. If while traveling you believe you or a member of your party has suffered heat or sunstroke call 911 immediately and give first aid until paramedics arrive or you access emergency care.

3.) Food Poisoning

It's no secret when we travel we tend to not eat as well as we should. Blame it on the open road mentality, as usually our options are fast and eh, kinda okay, maybe? With all of those elements our chances become even more ripe for the dreaded food poisoning. Food poisoning is generally caused by contaminated food or a lack of cooking food to the correct temperatures to kill off bacteria. It can happen anywhere, but some ideas for avoiding food poisoning include checking out restaurants where you want to dine online before you point your vehicle in that direction, also avoid places that look unkempt or poorly maintained.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms usually have on onset in the first 24 hours after eating and include upset stomach, gastrointestinal distress, cold sweats, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Who Is Most At Risk?

Anyone. Food poisoning often is just a weird occurrence and even the best restaurants can serve up a dish that has been contaminated along the way or should have been cooked longer. Obviously the better the establishment the more well trained the staff the less this happens, but given how much we eat fast food on the road it's a given that it can happen to any traveler.

How To Treat

Once you feel that food poisoning is at play, keep to the BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast). It's a more bland diet but will help your digestive system still get some nutrients while not taxing it too much. Sipping on a Sports Drink, Sprite or 7-Up can also help a bit and eating some saltine crackers. Replenish fluids as much as you are able without making the problem worse. Avoid anti-diarrheal medications as the goal is to remove the foreign bacteria from your system. Try not to over exert yourself until you are well.

Stay tuned for Volume 2 as we continue on with our list of the top 5 most common Road Trip ailments!