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If you've ever been sick
to your stomach on a rocking boat or a bumpy airplane ride, you know the
motion sickness. It doesn't cause long-term
problems, but it can make your life miserable, especially if you
travel a lot.
Children from 5 to 12 years old, women, and older adults get motion sickness more than others do. It's rare in children younger than 2.
is sometimes called airsickness, seasickness, or carsickness.
sickness can cause:
Symptoms will usually go away soon after the motion stops.
You get motion sickness
when one part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear, eyes, and sensory nerves)
senses that your body is moving, but the other
parts don't. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving
ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of waves, but your eyes don't see
any movement. This conflict between the senses causes motion
You may feel sick from the motion of cars,
airplanes, trains, amusement park rides, or boats or ships. You could also get sick from video games, flight simulators,
or looking through a microscope. In these
cases, your eyes see motion, but your body doesn't sense it.
You can take medicine to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. These include:
Some of these medicines require a prescription. Most work best if you take them before you
These tips may help you feel better when you have motion sickness:
best to try to prevent motion sickness, because symptoms are hard to stop after
they start. After symptoms start, you may feel better only after the
These general tips may help you avoid motion sickness:
To avoid motion sickness when you travel by car:
When you travel by airplane:
When you travel by ship or boat:
people try other methods of preventing motion sickness, such as taking powdered
ginger capsules or wearing acupressure wristbands. There isn't much evidence that
they help, but it's safe to try them.
Learning about motion sickness:
Living with motion sickness:
The CDC's Travelers' Health Web site provides health
information for the traveler. The Web site provides information on
immunizations that are needed for travel to various areas of the world. It also
provides information for safe travel, including traveling with children and
with people who have special needs. Information about current outbreaks of
disease in the world is also provided. The CDC is the leading federal agency
for protecting U.S. citizens' health and safety by providing credible health
information and health promotion.
Other Works Consulted
Carroll ID (2012). Motion sickness. In GW Brunette et al., eds., CDC Health Information for International Travel 2012: The Yellow Book. New York: Oxford University Press. Also available online: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/motion-sickness.htm.
Jacobs ME, Hawley CG (2012). Safety and survival at sea. In PS Auerbach, ed., Wilderness Medicine, 6th ed., pp. 1666–1692. Philadelphia: Mosby.
Krilov LR (2011). Travel medicine. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 158–163. Philadelphia: Saunders.
July 16, 2013
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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