If you've ever been sick
to your stomach on a rocking boat or a bumpy airplane ride, you know the
motion sickness. It doesn't cause long-term
problems, but it can make your life miserable, especially if you
travel a lot.
Children from 5 to 12 years old, women, and older adults get motion sickness more than others do. It's rare in children younger than 2.
is sometimes called airsickness, seasickness, or carsickness.
What are the symptoms?
sickness can cause:
A general feeling that you're ill.
Symptoms will usually go away soon after the motion stops.
What causes motion sickness?
You get motion sickness
when one part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear, eyes, and sensory nerves)
senses that your body is moving, but the other
parts don't. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving
ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of waves, but your eyes don't see
any movement. This conflict between the senses causes motion
You may feel sick from the motion of cars,
airplanes, trains, amusement park rides, or boats or ships. You could also get sick from video games, flight simulators,
or looking through a microscope. In these
cases, your eyes see motion, but your body doesn't sense it.
How is it treated?
You can take medicine to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. These include:
Scopolamine, which comes as a patch you put behind your ear.
Medicines called antiemetics, which reduce nausea.
Certain antihistamines, which may make you drowsy.
Some of these medicines require a prescription. Most work best if you take them before you
These tips may help you feel better when you have motion sickness:
Eat a few dry soda crackers.
Sip on clear, fizzy drinks such as ginger ale.
Get some fresh air.
Lie down, or at least keep your head still.
How can you avoid motion sickness?
best to try to prevent motion sickness, because symptoms are hard to stop after
they start. After symptoms start, you may feel better only after the
These general tips may help you avoid motion sickness:
Move your head as little as possible.
Don't drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal before you travel.
Don't eat or drink during short trips.
Try to avoid strong odors and spicy foods.
In a car
To avoid motion sickness when you travel by car:
Sit in the front seat.
Don't read or watch TV or videos.
In a plane
When you travel by airplane:
Ask for a seat near the wings.
Eat small meals of foods that are easy to digest before and during a long flight. This may help reduce nausea and vomiting.
On a ship or boat
When you travel by ship or boat:
Book a cabin near the middle of a ship and near the waterline.
Sit in the middle of a boat.
Try to get fresh air.
Look at a fixed point on the horizon.
people try other methods of preventing motion sickness, such as taking powdered
ginger capsules or wearing acupressure wristbands. There isn't much evidence that
they help, but it's safe to try them.
Carroll ID (2012). Motion sickness. In GW Brunette et al., eds., CDC Health Information for International Travel 2012: The Yellow Book. New York: Oxford University Press. Also available online: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/motion-sickness.htm.
Jacobs ME, Hawley CG (2012). Safety and survival at sea. In PS Auerbach, ed., Wilderness Medicine, 6th ed., pp. 1666–1692. Philadelphia: Mosby.
Krilov LR (2011). Travel medicine. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 158–163. Philadelphia: Saunders.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.