Health & Info

Motion Sickness


If you've ever been sick to your stomach on a rocking boat or a bumpy airplane ride, you know the discomfort of motion sickness. It's a condition that generally causes no long-term harm but can that generally causes no long-term harm but can make life miserable in the short term, especially for people who travel a lot. Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body that detect motion send conflicting messages to the brain.

One part of the body may indicate the body is moving, while the other parts do not sense motion. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your eyes don't see any movement. This leads to a conflict between the senses. 

Some factors may increase the risk of having bouts of motion sickness.

These include

  • Being female.
  • Being pregnant. Many women who are pregnant already experience nausea and vomiting; motion may increase their nausea.
  • Being 3 to 12 years of age. Motion sickness is generally more common in this age group than in others.
  • Eating before traveling, especially if the food is high in fat or contains dairy products.
  • Being exposed to strong odors from food, smoke, or fumes.
  • Being anxious at the time of travel.

People can become motion sick in cars, airplanes, and trains and on amusement park rides and ships. Motion sickness is sometimes called airsickness or seasickness. Video games, flight simulators, and looking through a microscope also can cause motion sickness; in these cases, the eyes see motion, but the body does not sense it.




Motion sickness may cause

  • A general feeling of being unwell (malaise).
  • Nausea or vomiting, or both.
  • Headache.
  • Cold sweating

You may look pale if you are motion sick. Symptoms usually go away when motion stops. Sometimes it can take a few days for symptoms to go away. You may become used to motion during extended trips, such as on a cruise. If that happens, your symptoms may go away. But when you are back on land, the lack of motion can cause symptoms to return for a short time.

Treatment Overview

It's best to try to prevent motion sickness because symptoms are hard to stop once they start. Once symptoms occur, the best way to treat motion sickness is to stop the motion. If you cannot stop the motion, try to reduce the motion you feel by sitting or lying down in an area with the least motion. In an airplane, try to sit near the wings; on a ship, stay on the deck and look at the horizon, or, if inside, move to the center of the craft.