Motion Sickness

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Steven Doerr, MD
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

Balance Disorders: Vertigo, Migraines, Motion Sickness and More

Quick GuideBalance Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Vertigo, Migraines, Motion Sickness and More

Balance Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Vertigo, Migraines, Motion Sickness and More

Can motion sickness be prevented?

In most cases, motion sickness can be prevented by taking the medications listed above, as they are often administered before a person is likely to experience motion sickness. Most of these medications are designed to prevent motion sickness rather than to cure it.

There are other ways to reduce or prevent motion sickness without the use of medication. The following is a list of suggestions that may help reduce or prevent motion sickness:

  • Eat light meals or snacks 24 hours before traveling, and try to avoid big or high fat content meals
  • Sit toward the front of an aircraft for a smoother ride
  • If you're on a boat, ask for a cabin on the upper deck toward the front of the boat, and keep your eyes fixed as much as possible on the horizon or land
  • During car travel, sit in the front seat of the car and keep your eyes on the horizon, and rest your head against the seat back and try to hold relatively still
  • On planes, trains and cars, turn the air vents toward your face
  • Avoid smoking
  • Short, shallow and rapid breathing can often contribute to motion sickness symptoms, therefore concentrate on maintaining slow and deep breathing

There are companies that market bracelets and bands which claim that they can prevent motion sickness using acupressure technology against certain pressure points, so that the transmission of nausea is blocked before it can be registered by the brain. Though these products may work for some people, most evidence is anecdotal and large studies have not been conducted to prove efficacy.

Medically reviewed by Peter O’Connor, MD; American Board of Otolaryngology with subspecialty in Sleep Medicine

REFERENCES:

CDC.gov. Motion Sickness.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Motion Sickness.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015

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