Most people think car sickness is just one variety of motion sickness – the nausea and dizziness that attack some travellers on aeroplanes, buses and cars. A few people with car sickness, however, may be reacting to car exhaust fumes, moulds and dust in the car air conditioner or the odour of new vinyl upholstery. All those triggers can make an allergic traveller feel nauseated and sometimes dizzy or headachy.
But even if they don’t feel outright nausea, people with allergy induced car sickness can become irritable and easily annoyed by delays or other drivers’ mistakes. And there are a host of other possible symptoms. They may feel dopey and under-react to traffic situations. Perceptions may dull and reflexes slow down. Vision may blur. The driver may underestimate the time and distance needed to stop, or even fall asleep at the wheel.
If you get sick, tired or irritable on car trips, take less heavily traveled routes to avoid breathing heavily polluted air. Above all, don’t drive in the wake of a bus or diesel truck if you can possibly avoid it.
When you stop to fill up, close the window while the service station attendant fills the tank. At self-service stations, wear a handkerchief over your nose and mouth to block out fumes while you fill your tank. (Be sure to remove the handkerchief when you approach the cashier, so he won’t mistake you for a robber!)
Allergic people should have their car air conditioners cleaned regularly before and during the hot weather season to eliminate mould and dust. As for sensitivity to vinyl car interiors and upholstery, you’ll be less likely to get sick if you buy a car that’s at least two years old. As vinyl ages, it gives off less odour.
Much of the fatigue that’s blamed on ‘highway hypnosis’ may actually be due to car-related allergies. Following these precautions will not only help you arrive at your destination feeling well, but will also cut down your chances of a traffic accident along the way.