Motion Sickness

Dr. Rajalakshmi VK (AIIMS)MBBS

January 03, 2019

March 06, 2020

Motion Sickness
Motion Sickness

What is Motion sickness?

Motion sickness is a sudden sensation during travelling that causes nausea and vomiting. Children, pregnant women, and people taking certain medicines are particularly prone to this condition. When the movements sensed by the nerves through the signals from ears, eyes, muscles and joints do not match in the brain, this sensation is experienced.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Common symptoms include:

Severe symptoms include

What are the main causes?

The symptoms of motion sickness appear when the brain receives mismatched messages from the sensory organs such as ear, eyes, muscle and joints. For example, if a person is on a plane he cannot see the turbulence but the body feels it. This mismatching of signal leads to discomfort and motion sickness.

Causes include:

  • Physical, visual or virtual motion. E.g. travelling by boat, car, plane, or train.  
  • Sleep deprivation can enhance this condition
  • Amusement rides and playground equipment can induce motion sickness too.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis includes the following steps:

  • Motion sickness resolves by itself in most cases.
  • Symptoms are assessed to find out the cause.
  • Laboratory tests are not necessary.
  • Physical examination includes tests like the Hallpike manoeuvre to confirm it is motion sickness.

Treatment includes the following:

  • Ginger supplements might help curb nausea.
  • Medications such as scopolamine, dimenhydrate and meclizine can be prescribed to relieve motion sickness.

Preventive measures to be taken include:

  • Gaze towards the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. This reaffirmation of balance helps in the reorientation of the inner apparatus that maintains balance and reduces the motion sickness.
  • Avoid reading while travelling or using electronic devices.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, strong odours, spicy and greasy foods.
  • Eat light food before travelling.
  • Sit in a comfortable position, closed eyes and elevated neck position with back resting.
  • Chewing gum too helps in reducing car sickness for no clear reason.


  1. Lackner JR. Motion sickness: more than nausea and vomiting. Exp Brain Res. 2014 Aug;232(8):2493-510. PMID: 24961738
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Motion Sickness.
  3. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Motion sickness.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland, Ohio. Motion Sickness.
  5. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Motion sickness.

Medicines for Motion Sickness

Medicines listed below are available for Motion Sickness. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

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