Motion sickness - what to do?

From a 2011 BMJ review:

Travel by car, train, or other transport is part of everyday life for most people, and therefore motion sickness is a quite common problem. It was recognized in the early days of sea travel and the word for sickness, “nausea,” derives from the Greek word νανς, meaning “ship.”

Motion sickness is also a potentially disabling problem, thought to be due to sensory conflict or “mismatch” involving the vestibular system.

Symptoms can be provoked by:

- externally imposed motion
- implied self motion from a moving visual field, such as in a cinema


Motion sickness manifests with:

- nausea, vomiting, and stomach awareness
- increased salivation
- belching
- pallor
- sweating
- headache
- dizziness
- apathy, drowsiness, and malaise
- hyperventilation


Behavioral treatments such as habituation can be effective but at the same time they can be unpleasant and time consuming


Hyoscine is an effective preventive medication. There are oral forms and transdermal patches. Hyoscine nasal spray is also effective in preventing motion sickness

Evidence to support the use of other drugs is weaker, especially taking into account the trade off between efficacy and adverse effects. Traditional remedies such as ginger and acupressure bands have not been effective.


Managing motion sickness. BMJ Review 2011; 343 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d7430
Image source:, public domain.

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