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Motion Sickness

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness happens when the motion you see is different from the motion you feel. Your eyes, muscles, joints, and inner ears sense motion and send signals to your brain. When these signals are different, motion sickness occurs.

What increases my risk for motion sickness?

  • Motion, such as in a car, plane, boat, or carnival rides
  • Watching a movie on a large screen
  • Smoke, fumes, or odors
  • Strong emotions, such as fear or anxiety
  • Pregnancy, monthly periods, or birth control
  • Medical conditions, such as migraines, ear infections, or poor blood flow

What are the signs and symptoms of motion sickness?

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pale skin or a cold sweat
  • Increased amount of saliva
  • Yawning
  • Breathing faster than usual
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Confusion or dizziness

How is motion sickness diagnosed?

Motion sickness is diagnosed based on your symptoms and when they happened. Your healthcare provider may move your head in different directions. This test may show if an inner ear problem is causing your symptoms. You may be asked to do certain exercises that could make you dizzy.

How is motion sickness treated?

Try to avoid activities that can trigger motion sickness. Medicines can help prevent or treat motion sickness.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I help prevent motion sickness?

  • Know where to sit when you travel. You may have fewer symptoms if you are the driver when you travel by car. If you are a passenger, try to sit in the front seat. Sit in the middle of a plane or boat. Do not face backward.
  • Increase fresh air around your face. Avoid smoke, fumes, and odors.
  • Recline slightly and fix your eyes on still, distant objects. Keep your head still and rest it against a head rest.
  • Do not read or play video games while you travel.
  • Do not have alcohol or caffeine , and do not eat a large meal before you travel.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a headache and a dry, sticky mouth.
  • You are not urinating as much as usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You are confused and have fast, shallow breathing.
  • You feel like you are going to faint.
  • You have severe anxiety or panic.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Treatment options

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.