motion sickness summary

Motion sickness is known as motion sickness and is a condition that occurs when traveling by car, plane or boat. The problem is caused by a deregulation of the body’s balance system, located in the inner ear. The condition can be aggravated if you drink alcohol, smoke or read while traveling.
Symptoms are easy to identify and boil down to nausea, dizziness and vomiting. If vomiting is constant and severe, the patient may have dehydration.
There are preventive and curative treatments, based on antiemetics and antihistamines. Medicinal plants such as ginger and essential oil of mint and lavender also help to control nausea.


Motion sickness, or motion sickness, is defined as the manifestation of motion sickness when traveling by land, air or sea. In fact, some people’s bodies don’t support this type of movement or take time to adapt. This condition is also called Space Adaptation Syndrome. Motion sickness is usually not a serious condition, but it can be particularly unpleasant for those who suffer from it. All means of transport can lead to disturbances.

Watching 3D movies or virtual reality can also cause problems like when we are in real transport.

On a physiological level, motion sickness develops when the brain receives conflicting information between what it sees and what it feels from the vestibular system of the ear. This system is an organ responsible for the balance of an individual, it is particularly filled with liquid and allows to indicate the direction in which the body moves. For example, if a child sits in a back seat and only sees the front seat which is motionless while the car is turning, this creates a conflict in his brain.


Children aged 2 to 12 years are particularly affected and sensitive to motion sickness.


Problems in the balance mechanism is the main cause of motion sickness. Labyrinths are small organs located in the innermost part of each ear. They are very sensitive to movement and help us to identify our natural position in relation to space.

Thanks to its specific receptors in the eyes, tendons, muscles and skin, the labyrinth collects information about the state of our body in space.

After that, they send information to the control centers, which are the cerebrum and cerebellum. These, in turn, analyze the data. Anything that disturbs the information causes the brain to become confused and not be able to specify which position the body is in.

Motion sickness is commonly caused by swaying, sudden acceleration or deceleration of a vehicle. It can also be caused by inadequate ventilation, heat and odors of any kind. The condition can be aggravated by the immaturity of mazes in children. The particular susceptibility of each individual and the fear of getting sick are involved in the appearance of the disease.

Having a full or empty stomach, drinking alcohol or a heavy meal, smoking and fatigue also promote motion sickness.

Origin of Nausea and Vomiting
Scientists currently do not know why nausea and vomiting is a symptom of this conflicting information, as reported in an August 2018 Wall Street Journal article. When a human being ate a toxic substance like poison, the brain also received conflicting information and to protect us, vomiting would be a defense system.


The first symptoms of motion sickness are profuse salivation, headaches and yawning. The traveler may turn pale and start talking briefly. He may then experience vomiting. These specific signs may be accompanied by belching, drowsiness, feeling cold or dizzy, and nervousness.

All these symptoms improve when the trip is interrupted, but may persist after three days. Finally, note that motion sickness rarely affects newborns and the elderly. Children and women are more affected than men.


Motion sickness is very easy to recognize and is based on checking the manifestations (symptoms) listed above that occur while traveling.


Motion sickness is usually benign. However, complications can endanger the patient’s life. Prolonged vomiting can cause water loss or severe dehydration.

In a person with diabetes, disorders related to motion sickness can cause loss of appetite. Therefore, the patient is exposed to hypoglycemia or a decrease in the amount of sugar in his blood. Pregnant women are at risk of premature birth.


There are two possible types of treatment: curative and preventive treatment.

curative treatments

In case of seasickness, it is advisable, if possible, to temporarily interrupt the trip and make the patient get out of the car. He can even lie down for a bit if needed. Antiemetics prevent vomiting during motion sickness. Also, it is important to remove the causes of motion sickness to relieve the patient.

If the traveler vomits a lot, he should rest for a longer time and drink a glass or two of water. This avoids the problem of dehydration.

preventive treatments

There are several methods to prevent motion sickness.

The use of medication is the most common. Chemical drugs are presented in the form of a tablet, suppository or patch for the skin (eg scopolamine-based, upon medical prescription).

These medicines act at the brain level, preventing the onset of motion sickness. Most of the time it is necessary to take 30 minutes to 1 hour before departure, sometimes earlier for certain patches. However, they do have side effects such as drowsiness or vision changes that make driving a vehicle impossible.

Non-pharmacological methods also prevent nausea. In fact, if you can get a more stable position in a vehicle, you have less risk of motion sickness. The most comfortable seats are located in the wings during flight, next to the driver in a car, and in the middle in a boat. The best thing is to tilt your head and lean it against something.

Avoid reading, looking down and at objects on the sides. Always prefer to look ahead.

In terms of diet, eat small meals and avoid alcohol, dairy products and cigarettes.

Magnetic bracelets and acupuncture against motion sickness are also on the market. Nothing stops you from trying, but we have to admit that its effectiveness is still a matter of debate.

Specific treatment for vertigo associated with motion sickness

In this case, it is advisable to take preventive medications to avoid discomfort.

– Anti-vertigo: cinnarizine in the form of drops or tablets. The usual dose is 1 to 2 tablets of 25 mg three times a day or 25 drops 1-2 times a day after meals. The maximum dose is 150 mg (6 pills or 50 drops)

– Antihistamine: dimenhydrinate in the form of tablets or drops. Usually take one hour before travel. Diphenhydramine, can also be used (from 2 years) as tablets. These drugs prevent fatigue and tiredness.

– Antiemetic: meclizine, as dragees or suppositories. There are different doses, according to the age of the patient. Caution, this medicine may cause drowsiness. In pregnant women, this drug can only be used with a prescription. Metopimazine can also be used.

Herbal medicine

Ginger is a plant that has proven qualities to prevent and cure motion sickness In a clinical study, oral administration of ginger rhizome powder (940 mg) was more effective than dimenhydrinate (100 mg) in preventing the gastrointestinal symptoms of  motion sickness  ( Motion sickness, ginger, and psychophysics ).  The results of this study suggested that ginger does not act on the vomiting center at a central level, but acts directly on the gastrointestinal tract through its aromatic, carminative and absorptive properties, through increased gastric motility and absorption of toxins and acids.

In children older than one year, mint , lavender , and lemon essential oils can prevent motion sickness. Place a few drops of essential oil in the car diffuser.

A simple remedy is to put a sprig of parsley around the neck during the trip (Observation from Create health: we don’t know if this remedy has scientific evidence or not).

Tips & Prevention

On each trip, follow these tips:

– before the trip, relax, eat small meals (avoid very spicy dishes) and prepare yourself psychologically.

– drink regularly, especially sugar water

– do not drink alcohol

– do not smoke and do not sit near smokers

– ask the driver of the car not to drive too fast or to make sharp turns

– stay, if possible, in a semi-sitting or lying position

– remain calm during the trip, be optimistic about your health

– on the train, sit in the direction the train is going, near a window

– sit in front of the car, look at the road and don’t read

– breathe fresh air deeply if possible

– do not observe moving objects

– leave the car airy and do not activate the heating

– on the plane stay in the middle (between the front and the back of the plane)

– on the boat, walk, look out, go on deck, preferably take a cabin in the front or middle of the boat, even on the upper deck.

– in the car, do not look at screens such as a tablet, a video game console or a cell phone.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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