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Don’t let illness tag along on family trips

Planning your summer vacation? Wondering how you’ll survive all that togetherness? Family road trips can be great for bonding and learning, but also frustrating if kids are bored or not feeling well. To help parents plan an enjoyable, educational and healthy trip, the folks at Dayton Children’s Hospital offers some helpful tips and activities.

When your family travels and is away from the usual eating and sleeping routines, the chances increase that someone might get sick.

Motion sickness: “Kids also can be vulnerable to a variety of travel-related problems, especially motion sickness,” says Melissa King, DO, medical director of urgent care and Dr. Mom Squad blogger at Dayton Children’s. “Motion sickness occurs when the inner ears detect movement but the eyes — ocused within a car or other vehicle — do not. These mixed signals coming into the brain can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, pallor and cold sweats”

Here are some helpful tips to help kids combat motion sickness:

• Eat a light meal before. Motion sickness seems worse on an empty stomach.

• Avoid eating during travel. For longer trips, sip drinks and eat small meals and snacks.

• Look outside. Kids should focus on still objects, not moving ones.

• Keep the windows open. Allow fresh air to circulate.

• Use a headrest. Minimize head movement.

• Make frequent stops. Visiting rest stops and parks for a short walk may help.

• Ask your doctor. There are medicines to prevent travel sickness.

Pack the essentials: “When you pack, include any medications and other medical supplies you and your family use regularly because they may be hard to find at your destination,” says King. “Don’t forget inhalers, allergy medication and insulin, if needed.”

You also may want to pack:

• A small first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, bandages and other medications your doctor may recommend

• Pain reliever like acetaminophen

• Sunscreen and insect repellent

• Waterless alcohol-based hand rubs for when soap and clean water aren’t available

Research the area: Do some research before your trip to find the hospital or medical care facility closest to your destination, particularly if your child has a chronic health condition. In case of an emergency, carry a written copy of your child’s medical history. This will help you remember important information at a time when you’re likely to be upset.

Think safety: While you’re traveling, it’s important to take the same health and safety precautions as you do at home, and always remember to buckle up your family. “As a reminder, kids should be in a rear-facing seat during infancy until the upper weight limits of a convertible car seat, usually 35 pounds,” says Jessica Saunders, community relations manager at Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator. “Then children should ride in a five-point harness forward facing seat until the upper weight limits of the seat — usually around 40 pounds.”

Children are ready to ride in a belt-positioning booster if they are at least 40 pounds and 4 years old until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall. Children 12 years old and younger should always ride in the back seat.

Before you leave, consider asking your doctor for other information about how to protect your family from illness and injury during travel. Do a little planning in advance to help cut down on the fighting and fussing, and your next road trip will likely be made up of fond family memories — on the road and off.

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