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Motion Sickness: Signs, Causes, Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Are you a traveller who dreads the thought of getting into a car because it makes you nauseated? Does your stomach begin to churn at the mere thought of being on a roller coaster? If the answer to these questions is yes, it seems like you might have Motion Sickness (MS). This article will give you an overview of MS along with some tips for preventing and minimizing its effects. Read ahead to explore.




Signs of Motion Sickness

Symptoms of Motion Sickness are as follows.

  • Sweating

  • Fatigue

  • Paleness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Increased saliva production

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite

  • Blurred vision

  • Ringing in the ear

  • Cold clammy skin

Causes of Motion Sickness

The common cause of this condition is a mismatch between the visual and vestibular systems. The vestibular system is the sensory system responsible for the sense of balance and spatial orientation of the body. When you are inside a vehicle or moving platform, your eyes can perceive movement and changes in direction, while your vestibular system does not detect any changes. This creates a mismatch between the two systems, leading to feelings of disorientation and dizziness, which is called Motion Sickness.

Other causes of MS can include low blood sugar, anxiety, fatigue, and certain medications. People may also be more prone to this condition if they don’t get enough sleep or if they are exposed to strong odours in the vehicle. In some cases, even the anticipation of motion can be enough to trigger symptoms of MS in some people. 

Types of Motion Sickness

The five types of Motion Sicknesses people face are as follows.

Seasickness: People who are susceptible to MS may experience seasickness, which is caused by the combination of rocked motions of a boat and visual cues, such as the horizon or wave patterns on the water. Its symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and sweating.

Airsickness: This type of MS occurs when a person is in an aircraft flying at high altitudes, and the turbulence causes a feeling of nausea, and vomiting.

Car Sickness: It is a condition that occurs when a person experiences nausea and sometimes vomiting while travelling in a car, or amusement park ride. Symptoms are often caused by the motion of the vehicle or the environment in which they are travelling.

Ride Sickness: This type of MS is caused by the rapid and jerking movements of an amusement park ride. It can cause dizziness, and vomiting.

Virtual reality sickness: This MS occurs when a person wears a virtual reality headset to experience a 3D environment. It can cause a feeling of nausea, and dizziness.

Diagnosing Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness is usually diagnosed based on a person's symptoms and medical history. A physical examination may also be performed to look for other causes of the symptoms. Tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an electroencephalogram (EEG) may be done to rule out other causes. Also, a CT scan or MRI may be recommended if the cause of the MS is suspected to be related to a neurological condition.

Check out: ECG Heart Rate Calculator 

First aid for Motion Sickness 

Here is a step by step guide to what you can do when you experience Motion Sickness.

  • Sit in an upright position in the car, bus, or boat. Avoid lying down.

  • Keep your eyes on the horizon and focus on a distant object.

  • Take deep, slow breaths.

  • Ask your travel companion to drive more slowly and smoothly.

  • Avoid reading or looking down at a phone or a book.

  • Avoid fatty and greasy foods.

  • Take medications such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine) if prescribed by your doctor.

  • Eat and drink ginger, such as ginger candy or ginger ale.

  • Take a few sips of lemonade, or suck on a lemon wedge to help stimulate saliva production. 

Treatment options for Motion Sickness

Here is a list of some treatments that can help you get rid of Motion Sickness.

1. Antihistamines

Antihistamines are a type of medication that blocks the effects of histamine, a chemical that can cause inflammation, redness, and swelling. They are commonly used to treat allergies, but they can also be used to help alleviate symptoms of MS. Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Alavert), can be taken before travel begins.

2. Skin patch or oral pills

Scopolamine is a medication that can also be used to treat MS. It is available as a skin patch (Transderm Scop®) or an oral pill that can be taken before you begin your journey. The skin patch is usually placed behind the ear, and the oral pills are usually taken every four to six hours.

3. Acupressure

Acupressure is a treatment that uses physical pressure applied to certain points on the body to relieve nausea and vomiting resulting from MS. Points known as the P6 (or the Nei-Kuan point) and the Pc6 (or Pericardium 6) are two of the most commonly used acupressure points for Motion Sickness relief. To apply acupressure, gently press and massage the points for several minutes until the feeling of nausea subsides.

4. Ginger

Ginger is a natural remedy that can be used to relieve MS. It has been found to be as effective as medications such as dimenhydrinate and meclizine. It is available in several forms, including ginger capsules, ginger root powder and ginger tea.

5. Peppermint

Peppermint is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to treat nausea. It is available in several forms, such as peppermint oil, peppermint tea and peppermint capsules.

6. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a treatment that uses essential oils to help you get rid of nausea and vomiting caused by MS. Certain essential oils, such as peppermint, ginger and lavender, are known to be effective at reducing nausea.

Self care tips while travelling

Here are some preventative measures you can count on to reduce Motion Sickness while travelling.

  • Rest and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualisation can be helpful during travel.

  • Taking frequent breaks from travel may also reduce symptoms.

  • Increase fluid intake and avoid alcohol during travel.

  • Eat light meals and avoid foods heavy in smell and taste.

  • Eat small meals throughout the day.

  • Get plenty of rest before travelling.

  • Avoid fatty and spicy foods.

  • Avoid reading or watching TV while travelling.

  • Listen to calming music or wear earplugs to reduce visual stimulation.

  • Consider taking Motion Sicknesses prevention measures such as antihistamines or acupuncture before travel.

  • Open the window for fresh air as it can help reduce the feeling of nausea associated with Motion Sickness.

  • Choose your seat to face the direction of travel.

If symptoms persist, please contact a doctor.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a rundown of some questions related to MS.

What helps Motion Sickness fast?

The best way to treat Motion Sickness quickly is to take over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines or consider ginger. Also, distracting activities such as playing games, or talking can help mitigate symptoms. Taking breaks and getting fresh air can also help to reduce MS.

Which foods reduce Motion Sickness?

Certain foods may help reduce MS. Eating light, bland meals can help keep your stomach calm. Ginger in any form (including candy, tea, or capsules) can help reduce nausea. Other foods that may help, such as crackers and apples, are usually not heavy on the stomach.

What should I avoid if I have Motion Sickness?

You should avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can make MS worse. Eating greasy, spicy, or overly heavy foods can also worsen your symptoms. Also, strong smells can further aggravate MS. So it’s best to avoid overly fragranced products. 

Is lemon good for nausea?

Yes, lemon can help with nausea since it is a natural antacid. Citrus has been used to help ease nausea and indigestion since ancient times. Lemon juice can help reduce the feeling of nausea and soothe the stomach by neutralising stomach acid.

How fast does Motion Sickness go away?

Motion Sickness usually subsides within a few hours. If you take medication for it, the symptoms should subside within about 15-30 minutes. However, it is important to note that it may take much longer for the symptoms to go away, depending on the severity.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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