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Motion sickness

Motion sickness

Also known as kinetosis, Air sickness, Car sickness, Riders' vertigo, Sea sickness, Queasiness and Travel sickness


It is a condition in which an individual experiences nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and other symptoms when they are exposed to motion or movement. 


It is believed to occur when there is a mismatch between the information received by the brain from the inner ear balance mechanism and what the eyes see.


Any mode of transportation, whether on land, in the air, or on the water, can cause motion sickness. It can also be caused by amusement rides and playground equipment.


Anyone can get motion sickness; however, some people have a higher threshold than others. Travel sickness is known to commonly affect children aged 2 to 12 years, pregnant women, and people suffering from migraine.


It is critical to get plenty of rest the night before traveling and to avoid alcohol. If you are prone to motion sickness, you should avoid dehydration and anxiety. It is recommended that you keep a home remedy handy while traveling. Medications can also help in managing the symptoms.

Key Facts

Usually seen in
  • Children between 2 and 12 years of age
Gender affected
  • Both men and women but more common in women
Body part(s) involved
  • Central nervous system (CNS)
  • Worldwide: 65% (2019)
Mimicking Conditions
  • Vestibulopathy
  • Cerebrovascular Event
Necessary health tests/imaging
  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Anticholinergic: Scopolamine
  • Antihistamine: Diphenhydramine, cyclizine, Meclizine, Cinnarizine , Promethazine
  • Sympathomimetic: Dextroamphetamine
  • Behavioral Management: Biofeedback training and relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy, breathing techniques
Specialists to consult
  • General Physician
  • Paediatrician (in case of children)
  • Gastroenterologist

Symptoms Of Motion Sickness 

The most common signs and symptoms of motion sickness include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold sweats
  • Pale appearance
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Yawning
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Increased salivation
  • Lack of interest, and enthusiasm
  • Increased sensitivity to odors
  • General discomfort

In Children:

  • Before age 6, the main symptom is dizziness and the need to lie down.
  • After age 12, the main symptom is nausea (feeling sick to the stomach).

Have you been vomiting quite frequently?

Know what can cause vomiting and when to visit a doctor.

Causes Of Motion Sickness

During motion, one part of the sensing system, such as the eyes and sensory nerves, detect movement, whereas the other parts, such as the inner ear, do not. Thus, the brain receives conflicting signals, which results in motion sickness.

The brain may recognise such a situation as the effect of a poison, and vomiting may occur as a natural reaction to get rid of the poison. The brain is not able to function properly as a result of the mixed signals, causing symptoms like dizziness, headache, and nausea.

Risk Factors For Motion Sickness

The following are the most common risk factors that increase your chances of getting motion sickness:

1. Age

Children aged 2 to 12 years are particularly vulnerable, but infants and toddlers are usually immune. There is a subsequent decline during teen years due to habituation. Adults over the age of 50 are less prone to motion sickness. 

2. Sex

Women are more prone to motion sickness, particularly when pregnant, menstruating, or taking hormone supplements.

3. Genetic factors

People who have a first-degree relative (for example, a parent or sibling) who is highly susceptible to motion sickness are more likely than the general public to get motion sickness themselves.

4. Certain medications

Certain prescription medications, such as antibiotics, NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen), birth control pills can increase the chances of experiencing motion sickness while traveling, or worsen the condition.

5. Hormones

The use of hormonal contraception, pregnancy, and the menstrual cycle all increase the susceptibility to motion sickness due to hormonal fluctuations.

6. Medical conditions 

Patients suffering from vertigo, an inner ear disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Meniere’s disease, and migraine headaches are more prone to motion sickness, especially during a migraine attack.

Struggling with migraine?

Watch our expert, a leading neurologist decode it for you.

Diagnosis Of Motion Sickness

It is usually based on the patient’s complaint of the relevant symptoms during travel. The doctor will take the history related to traveling and symptoms of motion sickness.

The doctor will look for any inner ear problems that may be exacerbating the symptoms of motion sickness.

Celebs affected

Tia Mowry
Tia Mowry is an American actress, who has also experienced motion sickness. In one of her interviews she said, “I actually wear these nausea bands—they're like motion sickness bands that people wear on, like, cruise ships and stuff,—and they have been my best friends. They're part of my wardrobe now."

Prevention Of Motion Sickness

Gradually increasing your exposure to motion (habituation training) can help you become accustomed to traveling while also reducing the severity and frequency of motion sickness. 

I. Here are a few common preventive measures that may be useful:

  • Being aware of the triggers that aggravate the symptoms.
  • Closing your eyes, sleeping, or staring at the horizon while traveling.
  • Adding distractions such as breathing control, music, or aromatherapy scents such as mint or lavender. Flavored lozenges may also be beneficial.
  • Positioning yourself optimally to reduce motion or motion perception.
  • Lightly pressing your inner arm about 6 to 7 cm away from your wrist. You can also use a wristband for this purpose.
  • Avoiding overeating during travel.
  • Exposing oneself gradually to continuous or repeated motion sickness triggers.

II. Here are a few specific preventive measures to prevent motion sickness in a car, plane or boat:

1. Prevention of car motion sickness

  • Sit in the front seat of a car.

  • Rest your head against the seat back.

  • Turn the air vents in the direction of your face.

  • Avoid foods that make you feel unusually full or have strong odors.

  • Do not read.

  • Do not smoke.


2. Prevention of motion sickness on a plane

  • Try to avoid big, greasy meals and alcohol the night before air travel.

  • Eat light meals or snacks that are low in calories 24 hours before air travel.

  • Try choosing a seat towards the front of the aircraft or in a seat over the wing.

3. Prevention of motion sickness on a boat

  • Ask for a cabin on the upper deck or towards the front of the ship.

  • When on deck, keep your eyes fixed on the horizon or land.


4. Prevention of motion sickness in children

  • Before the trip, choose bland foods over spicy foods. This alleviates hunger pangs, which appear to aggravate the symptoms.

  • Try to focus the child’s attention away from the queasy feeling. Listen to the radio, sing, or converse.

  • Allow your child to look at things outside the car rather than at books or games.

  • A cool cloth on the forehead can also help to alleviate symptoms.

  • Travel during the night if possible.

  • If your child begins to experience motion sickness symptoms, you may need to make frequent short stops.


5. Prevention of motion sickness during pregnancy

  • Eat small, frequent meals. Going too long without eating during pregnancy can cause nausea or make it worse. 

  • Avoid greasy, high-fat foods. 

  • Drinking peppermint, spearmint and chamomile teas may help.

  • Eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich foods such as cereal, fruit, bread and rice. They are easy to digest and provide energy.

  • Limit your consumption of coffee. It stimulates acid secretion, which can make the nausea worse.

  • Wear sea sickness wristbands.

Did you know?
When you overeat, your body tries to deal with the extra food by triggering nausea. In severe cases, the body may respond to this trigger by forcibly emptying the stomach through vomiting. Hence, it is important to keep a tab on what and how much you eat. Here are a few simple ways to control overeating.
Did you know?

Doctor To Visit

Nausea can be caused due to several reasons. It is essential to see a doctor in case of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic, persistent nausea or vomiting.

  • Motion sickness symptoms when you’re not involved in a moving activity.

  • The symptoms of motion sickness last for more than 8 hours.

  • Symptoms of dehydration.

  • Your child has motion sickness symptoms even when she is not participating in a movement activity, especially if she also has a headache, difficulty hearing, seeing, walking, or talking.

The doctors you need to visit are:

  • General Physician
  • Paediatrician (in case of children)
  • Gastroenterologist

A gastroenterologist is a doctor who treats diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, and gallbladder. 

If you or your child have persistent nausea or experience prolonged motion sickness, do not delay and get medical advice from our world-class doctors.

Treatment Of Motion sickness

Treatment for motion sickness comprises removing the patient from the factor that is causing motion sickness. The symptoms of motion sickness usually subside once you stop traveling.

In the case of severe motion sickness, treatment may include:

I. Medications

Medications can be subdivided into categories: anticholinergic, antihistamine and sympathomimetic.

1. Anticholinergics:  

  • Scopolamine- Scopolamine patch can be placed behind the ear at least 4 hours before traveling. A single scopolamine patch will work for 3 days.

2. Antihistamines: 

3. Sympathomimetic

  • Dextroamphetamine

4. Administration of I.V. fluids

In severe cases of vomiting and dehydration, administration of I.V. fluids might be required.

II. Special considerations

1. Medications for pregnant women

Medications used for morning sickness are felt to be safe for use in motion sickness. Some examples include:

These are category B medications (No risk in animal studies. There are no adequate studies in humans, but animal studies do not demonstrate a risk to the fetus).

Note: Scopolamine and promethazine are category C medications (Risk cannot be ruled out. There are no satisfactory studies in pregnant women, but animal studies demonstrate a risk to the fetus. Potential benefits of the drug may outweigh the risks in pregnancy).

2. Medication of children (2–12 years of age): These can be given 1 hour before travel and every 6 hours during the trip. Some examples include:

Note: Scopolamine can cause dangerous adverse effects in children and should not be used.

III. Behavioral Management


1. Biofeedback Training and Relaxation

Biofeedback training is a noninvasive therapy that can teach you how to control body functions such as your heart rate. Combining biofeedback with gradual muscle relaxation may control nausea in a more effective way.


2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

It may be helpful in reducing the anxiety that some people with motion sickness experience.


3. Breathing Techniques

Slowing down your breath rate has been shown to reduce motion sickness. Deep breathing may also be especially beneficial if you are anxious about getting motion sick, which makes you feel even more nauseous.

Home care For Motion sickness

The first and foremost step is to keep yourself hydrated. There are a few herbs that are sometimes used for nausea and may provide some relief for motion sickness

1. Ginger (Adrak): Ginger is a popular herb because of its many health benefits, especially as an antiemetic. It is a common treatment for motion sickness, and some studies suggest it may also help with nausea and vomiting. 
It is often taken in the form of lozenges, tea, capsules, tablets, crystallized root, candies, or ginger ale

2. Peppermint oil: It effectively diminishes the symptoms of motion sickness and queasiness. For relief from motion sickness or general nausea, simply apply a small amount of peppermint oil to your abdomen, dab a drop on your wrists, or inhale its fragrance. However, several drugs can interact with peppermint. Make sure to consult your doctor before using it.

3. Chamomile: Chamomile tea is frequently used to alleviate or prevent nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.

Feeling nauseated?Try these 6 foods to get instant relief.

Complications Of Motion Sickness

1. Vomiting due to motion sickness can cause excessive loss of fluids from the body and may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and even passing out.

2. Malnutrition and weight loss are other complications seen in patients with chronic nausea, as they often avoid consuming full meals out of fear.


3. Motion sickness can cause anxiety and stress, leading to avoidance of activities and limiting experiences. It can disrupt daily life, restrict participation in motion-related activities, and increase the risk of accidents. 


4. Severe cases may have psychological consequences, including frustration, embarrassment, and the development of phobias related to motion or travel.

Alternative Therapies For Motion Sickness

Alternative therapies have shown some good results in the management of motion sickness. However, it is always advised to consult your healthcare provider before starting any of the following alternative therapies:

1. Acupressure

Acupressure aims to stimulate specific points on the body by applying pressure. Applying pressure to the acupressure point known as "pericardium 6," or "P6," can make you feel better. The point is situated between the two tendons on the inside side of the forearm, about two inches (or three finger widths) above the wrist crease.


2. Aromatherapy therapy

During your travels, you can incorporate aromatherapy by inhaling the scent through a tissue or, or applying diluted essential oil to specific areas like temples, wrists, and neck. Another option is to use aromatherapy jewelry for a soothing experience throughout your journey. 

Before diffusing essential oils, check with your doctor if you have asthma or another respiratory disease.

Buy essential oil products online to get rid of the unwelcoming feeling of nausea and vomiting. Fill your cart now.

3. Motion sickness glasses

Anti-motion sickness glasses are a novel approach to a common issue. Four circular rims frame the eyeglasses, two in front and one on each side. It aids in matching the sensory input from your eyes and ears. The liquid in your rims moves as your vehicle rises, falls, or turns. Its purpose is to create a false horizon in your field of vision.

Did you know?
Acupressure bands are also available commercially to help prevent motion sickness. Studies suggest these bands may help delay the onset of symptoms. To know our wide range of acupressure products
Did you know?

Living With Motion sickness

Almost everyone experiences motion sickness at some point in their lives. You may vomit due to the queasy feeling and nausea. You can't always avoid the movement that's making you sick, especially when traveling.

However, nausea and vomiting are distressing symptoms that may significantly affect the overall quality of life and greatly influence an individual’s overall mood and social activities.

Prevention is more effective than treatment for motion sickness, so identifying and/or avoiding triggers is critical. Here are some tips for dealing with stress more effectively.

  • Know the triggers that are causing motion sickness and work on it.

  • Accustom yourself to motion sickness by beginning with small movements that cause dizziness or nausea and gradually increasing each day. It is a long-term approach that provides the most reliable antidotes to motion sickness.

  • Don't be afraid to seek professional medical assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Leung AK, Hon KL. Motion sickness: An overview [Internet]. Drugs in context. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2019 [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from: External Link
  2. Synonyms of motion sickness (no date) www.thesaurus.com. Available at: External Link
  3. StatPearls. Motion sickness [Internet]. StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from:External Link
  4. Motion sickness [Internet]. Mount Sinai Health System. [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from:External Link
  5. Motion sickness - chapter 8 - 2020 yellow book (no date) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: External Link
  6. Motion sickness [Internet]. Seattle Children's Hospital. 2022 [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from:External Link
  7. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/motion-sickness#where-to-get-helpExternal Link
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539706/External Link
  9. UCSF Health. Coping with common discomforts of pregnancy [Internet]. ucsfhealth.org. UCSF Health; 2022 [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from: External Link
  10. Car sickness [Internet]. HealthyChildren.org. [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from: External Link
  11. Ogunniyi AA. Motion sickness - injuries and poisoning [Internet]. MSD Manual Consumer Version. MSD Manuals; 2023 [cited 2023Feb16]. Available from: External Link
  12. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000110.htmExternal Link
  13. ER; MK. Efficacy of acupressure and acustimulation bands for the Prevention of Motion Sickness [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2023 Jun 13]. Available from:External Link
  14. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/air-land-sea/motion-sicknessExternal Link
  15. Lackner J. R. (2014). Motion sickness: more than nausea and vomiting. Experimental brain research, 232(8), 2493–2510. Available from: External Link
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