Motion Sickness

Travel Clinics of America - Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, a common problem in travelers, usually causes mild to moderate discomfort but can be incapacitating. It is more common in women and children ages 2-12 years. Symptoms include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and cold sweats. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, take measures to minimize your symptoms.

  • Choose seats with the smoothest ride: front seat of the car, center of the boat, and over wings of the airplane.

  • Focus on something distant. Avoid reading or focusing your eyes on anything inside the vehicle.

  • Medications that prevent motion sickness can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin.  Oral medications should be taken 30-60 minutes before travel.

  • Scopolamine patch (Transderm Scop) should be applied behind ear at least 4 hours before departure and changed every 3 days as needed. Dry mouth is the most common side effect.

  • Many antihistamines are effective for prevention of motion sickness. 

    • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) is available without a prescription and is safe in children over age 2 and pregnant women.

    • Meclizine(Antivert, Dramamine II) is available with and without prescription. It is taken once daily. Not recommended for children under 12 and pregnant women.

    • Promethazine (Phenergan) is available by prescription. Not recommended for children or pregnant women.

  • Ginger (an herbal supplement) and pressure point bracelets (available in pharmacies) may help some people but have not been proven effective.

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