Motion sickness is characterized by symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting can be caused by motion itself or simply from feeling the sensation of motion, as when watching a movie or playing a video game.
Balance and equilibrium are maintained by an interaction among the inner ears, the eyes, pressure receptors on the skin, and motion receptors in the muscles and joints.
Motion sickness results when conflicting messages regarding spatial orientation and motion of the body are sent to the central nervous system. For example, reading a book while riding in a car may cause your eyes to send different messages than your inner ears do regarding motion.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Symptoms of motion sickness usually go away soon after the motion stops. But, for some people, the symptoms can last a day or more. The main treatment for motion sickness is rest.
To help control vomiting, medications may be given rectally or through an IV. If motion sickness lasts a long time, fluids may be given in order to prevent
Strategies to prevent motion sickness include:
Medication that prevents motion sickness should be taken as directed before you begin a trip or ride. These medications can cause side effects, such as drowsiness, lack of alertness, or trouble concentrating.
Prochlorperazine, promethazine, or chlorpromazine
Repeated exposure to the motion that causes the sickness can decrease your symptoms. This treatment can take time and may be unpleasant.
Commonly used alternative remedies include:
A pressure patch worn on the wrist to put pressure on certain points
Dizziness and motion sickness. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/dizziness-and-motion-sickness. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Motion sickness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/motion-sickness.htm. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/6/2014
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