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Health Information Center

Motion Sickness

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Motion Sickness

(Air Sickness; Car Sickness; Sea Sickness)


Motion sickness is an ill feeling that happens with movement. It can also happen when a person looks at something that is moving, such as a movie or park ride.


The brain senses motion through signals from the ears, eyes, muscles, and joints. Motion sickness is when the eyes signal the brain that the body is still while the other parts of the body signal that it is moving.

Central Nervous System.

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Risk Factors

Motion sickness is more common in women and children. It is also more common in people who have migraine headaches.


A person may have:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A pale face
  • Headache
  • Cold sweats
  • Lightheadedness


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.


Symptoms often go away soon after motion stops. Medicine that may ease symptoms include:

  • Over the counter antihistamines
  • Scopolamine


Ways to lower the risk of motion sickness during travel include:

  • Taking motion sickness medicine before any travel
  • Focusing on the skyline or an object that is far away
  • Not eating heavy meals before travel




  • Motion sickness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/motion-sickness.htm.
  • Motion sickness. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/motion-sickness/.
  • Nausea and vomiting in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/nausea-and-vomiting-in-adults.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.