How To Keep Motion Sickness at Bay
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Half the fun is getting there—unless you have motion sickness. Motion sickness can make you feel sick to your stomach (nausea). It is triggered by certain movement. It can happen when traveling in cars, buses, planes, trains, and boats. Luckily, it is usually mild and easy to treat. If you have travel in your future, it is best to plan ahead.
Causes of Motion Sickness
Motion sickness is not a problem with the stomach. It happens in the inner ear—the body's balance system. The body keeps balance in check. It does this through signals involving the eyes, ears, and brain. When there is certain motion, the brain gets confused. It does not know whether the person is still or moving. This confusion triggers motion sickness.
There are some things you can do to help prevent and treat motion sickness.
Preventing Motion Sickness
First, try to avoid situations that may trigger motion sickness. Here are some suggestions:
If you still develop motion sickness, there are other options to ease symptoms.
Treating Motion Sickness
If you do not want to take medicine, try ginger. It is unclear if ginger treats motion sickness. However, ginger in small doses may ease nausea and vomiting. This is especially true in pregnant women. Ginger comes in many forms. It can be found in tea, ginger ale, or bread. It also comes in pill form.
If you take blood thinners, ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Be sure to talk to your doctor.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure may offer some relief. They are procedures that use needles or pressure points on your body. When stimulated, the body reacts. Some people have found them helpful for nausea and vomiting. These may be options if other treatments do not work.
Dimenhydrinate and meclizine treat symptoms. They are found in certain over-the-counter antihistamines. If other methods do not help, a prescription such as scopolamine may help. It comes in pill form or as a small patch worn behind the ear. These medicines ease the nausea of motion sickness. However, they may also make you sleepy. Read the label. Be aware of side effects that could impair driving.
Motion sickness is common. If you plan ahead before you travel, you may avoid an unpleasant trip.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Ginger. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-databases/natural-alternative-treatments. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Ginger. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Motion sickness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-by-air-land-sea/motion-sickness. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Nausea and vomiting in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/nausea-and-vomiting-in-adults. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/nausea-and-vomiting-in-pregnancy. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/25/2021
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