(Air Sickness; Car Sickness; Sea Sickness)
by Rick Alan
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.
Motion sickness is more common in women and children. Other factors that may increase your chance of motion sickness include:
The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
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 dehydration.
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.
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:
There are steps that you can take to be more prepared:
Before you go:
For planes, trains, or boats:
Try to avoid amusement parks, virtual reality rides, and movies that may lead to motion sickness.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dizziness and motion sickness. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 21, 2018.
Motion sickness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Murdin L, Golding J, Bronstein A. Managing motion sickness. BMJ. 2011;343:d7430.
Nausea and vomiting in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated September 13, 2017. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/6/2014
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.