Motion sickness

Motion sickness is feeling sick when you are moving, for example on a ride at a fair, or travelling by car, boat, plane or train. There are things you can do to prevent it or relieve the symptoms.

Symptoms of motion sickness

Anyone can get motion sickness, but it’s more common in children and pregnant women. Some people are more sensitive to motion than others and will experience symptoms when others do not in the same situation.

Apart from making you want to be sick or causing you to vomit, motion sickness can cause other symptoms including:

Causes of motion sickness

Motion sickness is caused by repeated movements when travelling, like going over bumps in a car or moving up and down in a boat.

Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages. The inner ear sends different signals to your brain from those your eyes are seeing. These confusing messages cause you to feel unwell. If you are in a vehicle, your eyes may tell your brain that you are static, looking at objects in the vehicle, but your senses feel movement/motion.  If your brain can’t process the conflicting signals, you may end up experiencing motion sickness.

How you can ease motion sickness yourself

There are some things you should and shouldn’t do to help ease motion sickness. See information below for what these include.

Do

  • minimise motion – sit in the front of a car or in the middle of a boat
  • look straight ahead at a fixed point, such as the horizon
  • breathe fresh air if possible – for example, by opening a car window
  • close your eyes and breathe slowly while focusing on your breathing
  • distract children by talking, listening to music or singing songs
  • break up long journeys to get some fresh air, drink water or take a walk
  • try ginger, which you can take as a tablet, biscuit or tea

Don't

  • read, watch films or use electronic devices
  • look at moving objects, such as passing cars or rolling waves
  • eat heavy meals, spicy foods or drink alcohol shortly before or during travel
  • go on fairground rides if they make you feel unwell

A pharmacist can help with motion sickness

You can buy medication from pharmacies to prevent motion sickness, including:

  • tablets – dissolvable tablets are available for children
  • patches – can be used by adults and children over 10
  • acupressure bands – these don't work for everyone

Your pharmacist will be able to recommend the best treatment for you or your child.

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information, read terms and conditions.

This page was published June 2018

This page is due for review December 2020

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