Motion Sickness Symptoms, Remedies, Treatment, and Cure

  • 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.

10 Tips to Prevent Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is sometimes referred to as sea sickness or car sickness. The symptoms of motion sickness are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, and a sense of feeling unwell.

The following tips can help you prevent or lessen the severity of motion sickness:

  1. Watch your consumption of foods, drinks, and alcohol before and during travel. Avoid foods with strong odors to help prevent nausea.

What are the symptoms of motion sickness?

The signs and symptoms of motion sickness usually begin with a feeling of uneasiness followed by cold sweats and dizziness. Some people may exhibit pale skin and increased saliva production along with headache and fatigue. Nausea and vomiting usually occur after these initial symptoms.

What causes motion sickness?

Motion sickness is caused by the mixed signals sent to the brain by the eyes and the inner ear (semicircular canals). If you cannot see the motion your body's feeling, or conversely, if you cannot feel the motion your eyes see, then it is likely that the brain will get mixed signals and the person will develop some aspect or symptom of motion sickness.

SLIDESHOW

Balance Disorders: Vertigo, Motion Sickness, Labyrinthitis, and More See Slideshow

Who gets motion sickness?

Although pregnant women and children are more susceptible to motion sickness, almost anyone that is traveling is at risk for motion sickness. For those people who travel on boats, seasickness can be considered a form of motion sickness. Other risk factors include the:

  • Person's fear or anxiety about traveling
  • Mode of travel
  • Poor ventilation in the traveling vehicle
  • The inability to see out of a window to aid orientation

Do you need to see a doctor to treat motion sickness?

Most people with motion sickness do not need to see their doctor to treat it. Usually, laboratory testing is not required.

What home remedies help motion sickness go away?

Before taking these medications, read the precautions because many of these drugs have side effects, for example, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurry vision, and occasionally disorientation. Treatment for motion sickness can consist of medical treatment, simple changes in the environment , for example, get fresh air. Some people with motion sickness respond well to biofeedback training and relaxation techniques. Herbs for to treat motion sickness are ginger, peppermint, and tea. Some people respond to acupuncture. People who drive vehicles or operate heavy equipment should not take these medications.

What drugs make sickness go away permanently?

Most people with motion sickness can prevent it by taking medications that you put on the skin if you are if you are prone to motion sickness; however, most drugs used to treat motion sickness can help prevent it because it cannot be cured. Over-the-counter medications, and occasionally prescription medications, are used to relieve and in some cases prevent motion sickness. Some of the more common medications that can be used for motion sickness include:

When should I call a doctor for motion sickness?

Most people with motion sickness do not need to see a doctor to treat it unless the person begins to get dehydration from persistent and intractable vomiting. For most people with motin sickness the symptoms slowly decrease and then disappear.

How can motion sickness be prevented?

Most people with motion sickness can be prevent it by taking the medications because if you put on the skin if you are prone to motion sickness. Most drugs used to treat motion sickness will help 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 that 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.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/25/2019
References
REFERENCES:

Motion Sickness. CDC.gov. Last reviewed Oct 23, 2017.

Motion Sickness. University of Maryland Medical Center.
<https://www.umms.org/ummc>
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