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Home Health Library Motion sickness: First aid

Motion sickness: First aid

Any type of transportation can bring on the nausea and dizziness of motion sickness. Here are ways to keep it at bay.

Any type of transportation can cause motion sickness. It can strike suddenly, progressing from a feeling of uneasiness to a cold sweat, dizziness and vomiting. It usually quiets down as soon as the motion stops. The more you travel, the more easily you'll adjust to being in motion.

You might avoid motion sickness by planning ahead. When traveling, avoid sitting in the rear of the vehicle or in seats that face backward. Pick seats where you'll feel motion least:

  • By ship, request a cabin in the front or middle of the ship near the water level.
  • By plane, ask for a seat over the front edge of a wing. Once aboard, direct the air vent flow to your face.
  • By train, take a forward-facing seat near the front and next to a window.
  • By automobile, drive or sit in the front passenger's seat. Children should be in age-appropriate seats and restraints.

If you're susceptible to motion sickness:

  • Focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. Don't read or use electronic devices while traveling.
  • Keep your head still, while resting against a seat back.
  • Don't smoke and don't sit near smokers.
  • Avoid strong odors, spicy and greasy foods, and alcohol.
  • Take an antihistamine, which you can buy without a prescription. Medicines include dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Driminate, others) and meclizine (Dramamine Less Drowsy, Travel-Ease, others). Dimenhydrinate is safe for children older than age 2. Take these medicines at least 30 to 60 minutes before you travel. Expect drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Consider scopolamine, available in a prescription adhesive patch called Transderm Scop. Several hours before you plan to travel, apply the patch behind your ear for 72-hour protection. Talk to your health care provider before using the medicine if you have health problems such as glaucoma or urine retention.
  • Try ginger. A ginger supplement combined with ginger snaps, ginger ale or candied ginger might help curb nausea.
  • Eat lightly. Some people find that nibbling on plain crackers and sipping cold water or a carbonated drink without caffeine help.
Last Updated: January 7th, 2023