About Motion Sickness


Taking a long ride in a car, train or boat can be delightful for many travelers, but not for those who suffer from motion sickness. Motion sickness can occur when the brain receives mixed messages involving motion. For example, the brain may receive signals from the inner ears and body that it is moving, but if the eyes do not also signal the movement it may confuse the brain and cause motion sickness to set in, explains MedlinePlus.


Breaking out into a cold sweat and feeling dizzy, queasy or nauseated are usually the first indicators of motion sickness, explains MedlinePlus. A general sense of uneasiness may also be present. These symptoms usually occur quite suddenly and often without warning. If people are unable to get these initial symptoms under control, vomiting may also occur.

Risk Factors

Many factors can put a person at risk for developing motion sickness. Riding in a car, boat, airplane or space shuttle commonly causes motion sickness, but things like poor ventilation, sitting in the back and being unable to see out of a window also cause it. Young children between the ages of two to 12 are most likely to experience motion sickness, explains the University of Maryland’s Medical Center, but anyone with a susceptibility to nausea and vomiting as well as those with a heightened level of anxiety may also be at risk.


Although there are many motion sickness treatments available, some people can prevent motion sickness from occurring in the first place by making simple choices. Choosing to sit facing forward in the front of the moving vessel can prevent or reduce motion sickness, as can looking out the window. Getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding greasy foods and staying hydrated may also help, suggests the Cleveland Clinic.


Acupressure wristbands, herbs and medication are some common treatments for motion sickness. The wristbands work by putting pressure on a specific area of the wrist called the pericardium 6, which may reduce feelings of queasiness and nausea. Peppermint, ginger and an herb called black horehound may also be effective treatments, suggests the University of Maryland’s Medical Center. Finally, both over-the-counter and prescription medications can also provide relief from motion sickness symptoms. Examples of over-the-counter medications that may be useful include dimenhydrinate and meclizine, while prescription options include the medications promethazine, cyclizine and scopolamine.


Most people with motion sickness will be able to successfully treat the condition on their own. However, those experiencing persistent and intense symptoms of motion sickness should call a doctor to determine if a more serious medical cause may be to blame, warns the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

About this Author

Elizabeth M. Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of niche blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of psychology, mental health, education, pregnancy and reproductive health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in counseling from Oakland University.