Health Guide

Motion sickness

What is it?

Motion sickness is an unpleasant feeling that happens while you are in anything that moves, such as a car or an amusement park ride. It is also called car, sea, or air sickness. Motion sickness usually does not last long and goes away without treatment when the motion has stopped.


Your balance is controlled by fluid changes in your inner ear. Motion that causes a lot of fluid changes can cause you to feel sick to your stomach. Riding in a car, boat, or plane can cause changes in this fluid in your inner ear. Some medicines can make motion sickness worse.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have some or all of the following symptoms.

  • Your skin may turn pale.
  • You may have an upset stomach.
  • You may have a lot of saliva (spit).
  • You may vomit (throw up) or not want to eat.
  • You may have a headache.
  • You may yawn a lot.
  • You may be sweaty.
  • You may find you are breathing faster than usual.
  • You may feel anxious (panicky).
  • You may feel dizzy, weak or tired.

Wellness Recommendations:

Special eyeglasses may help motion sickness.

Medical Care:

No care is usually needed. Rest with a cool towel over your eyes and forehead. You may want to take anti-nausea medicine (dramamine) before you travel. This may keep you from having motion sickness. You can buy this medicine over-the-counter at drug or grocery stores. Your caregiver may give you stronger medicine, such as scopolamine, to keep you from having motion sickness.

Dietary Measures:

  • Avoid alcohol if you have motion sickness as it can make you vomit more.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.


    Complementary Therapies:

    • Acupuncture or acupressure can help motion sickness.
    • Biofeedback has been helpful for motion sickness.

    Do's and Don'ts:

    • To keep from getting motion sickness, do not eat a big meal or drink alcohol before and during travel.
    • Do not read and do not sit where people are smoking.
    • Try to breathe slowly and deeply.
    • Take medicine to keep from getting motion sickness.

    Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

    Talk to your caregiver if:

    • You would like medicine to treat motion sickness.
    • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
    • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


    • You have been vomiting and are feeling dizzy or faint.
    • You cannot drink or are very thirsty.
    • You have not passed urine in 8 hours, your urine is dark yellow, or your skin is very dry. These are signs that your body has lost too much water dehydration (d-hi-dra-shun).

    Care Agreement:

    You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


    1. Bertolucci LE & DiDario B: Efficacy of a portable acustimulation device in controlling seasickness. Aviat Space Environ Med 1995; 66(12):1155-1158.

    2. Jones DR, Levy RA, Gardner L et al: Self-control of psychophysiologic response to motion stress: using biofeedback to treat airsickness. Aviat Space Environ Med 1985; 56(12):1152-1157.

    3. Lawther A & Griffin MJ: A survey of the occurrence of motion sickness amongst passengers at sea. Aviat Space Environ Med 1988; 59(5):399-406.

    4. Schmid R, Schick T, Steffen R et al: Comparison of seven commonly used agents for prophylaxis of seasickness. J Trav el Med 1994; 1(4):203-206.

    5. Vente PE, Bos JE, de Wit G: Motion sickness amelioration induced by prism spectacles. Brain Res Bull 1998; 47(5):503-505.

    Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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