Home Health Motion sickness: First aid

Motion sickness: First aid

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Motion sickness: First aid

Any type of transportation can cause motion sickness. It can strike suddenly, progressing from a feeling of uneasiness to a cold sweat, dizziness and vomiting. It usually quiets down as soon as the motion stops. The more you travel, the more easily you’ll adjust to being in motion.

You might avoid motion sickness by planning ahead. When traveling, avoid sitting in seats in the rear of the vehicle or seats that face backward. Pick seats where you’ll feel motion least:

  • By ship, request a cabin in the front or middle of the ship near the water level.
  • By plane, ask for a seat over the front edge of a wing. Once aboard, direct the air vent flow to your face.
  • By train, take a forward-facing seat near the front and next to a window.
  • By automobile, drive or sit in the front passenger’s seat. Children should be in age-appropriate seats and restraints.

If you’re susceptible to motion sickness:

  • Focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. Don’t read while traveling or use electronic devices.
  • Keep your head still, while resting against a seat back.
  • Don’t smoke or sit near smokers.
  • Avoid strong odors, spicy and greasy foods, and alcohol.
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as one containing dimenhydrinate (safe for children over 2 years) or meclizine, at least 30 to 60 minutes before you travel. Expect drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Consider scopolamine, available in a prescription adhesive patch (Transderm Scop). Several hours before you plan to travel, apply the patch behind your ear for 72-hour protection. Talk to your doctor before using the medication if you have health problems, such as glaucoma or urine retention.
  • Try ginger. A ginger supplement combined with ginger snaps, ginger ale or candied ginger might help curb nausea.
  • Eat lightly. Some people find that nibbling on plain crackers and sipping cold water or a carbonated drink without caffeine help.

Oct. 14, 2020

  1. Dizziness and motion sickness. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/dizziness-and-motion-sickness. Accessed July 29, 2017.
  2. Auerbach PS. Motion sickness. In: Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 29, 2017.
  3. Priesol AJ. Motion sickness. https://www.uptodate.com/content/search. Accessed July 29, 2017.
  4. Brunette GW, et al. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2018. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press; 2017. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/yellowbook-home. Accessed July 29, 2017.
  5. Transderm Scop (prescribing information). Holzkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Ger.: Sandoz; 1979. http://www.transdermscop.com/prescribing-information.htm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2017.

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