Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is an unpleasant, temporary feeling of dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that occurs when a person is traveling. It can occur during travel by boat, car, airplane, or even on an amusement park ride. The symptoms of motion sickness usually get better once the motion or traveling stops, but problems may persist for hours or days.

CAUSES

Motion of the body can cause fluid changes in your inner ear, which can result in motion sickness. Some people are more susceptible to motion sickness than others. Stress, other illnesses, or drinking too much alcohol may add to motion sickness.

SYMPTOMS

  • Nausea.

  • Dizziness.

  • Unsteadiness when walking.

  • Vomiting.

DIAGNOSIS

Motion sickness is diagnosed based on your symptoms while you are traveling or moving.

TREATMENT

Most people improve rapidly after the motion stops. There are also over-the-counter medicines that can help with motion sickness. Your caregiver can prescribe motion sickness patches. These patches are placed behind your ear.

PREVENTION

  • Avoid situations that cause your motion sickness, if possible.

  • Consider taking medicines such as meclizine or dimenhydrinate before going on a trip that may cause motion sickness.

  • Do not eat large meals or drink alcohol before or during travel.

  • Take small, frequent sips of liquids as needed.

  • Sit in an area of the airplane or boat with the least motion. On an airplane, sit near the wing. Lie back in your seat, if possible. When riding in a car, try to avoid sitting in the backseat.

  • Breathe slowly and deeply.

  • Do not read or focus on nearby objects, if possible, especially if the water or air is rough. However, watching the horizon or a distant object is sometimes helpful, especially in a boat.

  • Avoid areas where people are smoking, if possible.

  • Plan ahead for vacations. Your caregiver can help you with a prescription or suggestions for over-the-counter medicines.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • If you use a motion sickness patch, wash your hands after you put the patch on. Touching your hands to your eyes after using the patch can enlarge (dilate) your pupils for 1 to 2 days and disturb your vision.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your vomiting or nausea cannot be controlled with medicine and rest.

  • You notice blood in your vomit. This could be dark red or look like coffee grounds.

  • You faint or have severe dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing. These may be signs of dehydration.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have severe abdominal or chest pain.

  • You have trouble breathing.

  • You have a severe headache.

  • You develop weakness or numbness on one side of the body.

  • You have trouble speaking.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.