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Motion sickness, a common issue for 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) can be prescribed by a physician and should be applied behind the 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 in pregnant women.
- Meclizine (Antivert, Dramamine II) is available with and without a prescription. It is taken once daily. It is not recommended for children under 12 and pregnant women.
- Promethazine (Phenergan) is available by prescription. It is 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.