MDs' Best Cures for Vacation Woes

Published in First for Women

You’re ready to relax on your summer getaway, when your child is sidelined by pain, tummy troubles or other symptoms. To the rescue: drug-free remedies doctors swear by when their own kids fall ill while traveling.

For Airplane Ear: Gum and Balloons

“My kids’ ears clog up all the time when we fly,” says father of-three Jordan S. Josephson, M.D., a sinus and nasal specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. To ease the pressure, he has them chew gum during takeoff and landing.

“You can also pack a few balloons in your carry-on for them to blow up,” he adds. Chewing and blowing work to open up the tubes in your ears, which equalizes the changes in air pressure that occur when flying. Dr. Josephson also has his children drink water throughout the flight, as swallowing and staying hydrated helps keep the ears and nasal passages clear to prevent pain. Finally, he has his kids hold their nose and blow to encourage ear popping, explaining, “This helps resolve the clogged sensation.”

For Motion Sickness: Ginger—Two Ways

“When we’re going on a trip where motion sickness is possible, I pack candied ginger, ginger tea and crackers,” says mother-of-two Cynthia Bailey, M.D., president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care & Dermatology in Sebastopol, California.

“And we needed it when we went on a cruise and the seas were rough.” Ginger promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes that neutralize stomach acid, and starchy crackers absorb excess acid to calm nausea. “You can only eat so much ginger because it’s peppery, so nibbles and sips are best,” Dr. Bailey explains. “If the kids get tired of ginger, they take small bites of crackers. It usually works quickly.”

For Post-Swim Itch: A Soothing Soak

“When my kids have gotten swimmer’s itch on vacation after outings at fresh- or saltwater swim holes, I’ve added Epsom salt to their baths,” says Jack Maypole, M.D., educational advisory board member for The Goddard School and a father of three. He scoops 2 cups into warm water and has the kids soak for 15 minutes.

“Their reaction?  Ahh!” says Dr. Maypole. “Epsom salt in warm water acts like diaper cream, offering a soothing balm, quelling irritation and itch.”

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