Motion sickness can cause symptoms ranging from mild nausea to dizziness, sweating, and vomiting. Any type of travel — automobile, plane, train, or ship — may bring it on, sometimes suddenly.
There are things you can do that may help almost immediately, like looking out to the horizon. Likewise, there are some long-term solutions you can try, like taking certain vitamins.
Be sure to check in with a doctor before starting new medications or supplements. Some may interact with any underlying conditions or medications you’re already taking.
Acting fast by changing positions or distracting yourself when you first notice motion sickness may help ease your symptoms before they become severe.
If you’re a passenger, consider taking the wheel of the vehicle. Scientists believe motion sickness is caused when the movement your eyes see is different from the movement your inner ear senses. If you’re driving the car, these senses may connect better.
Face the direction you’re going
If driving isn’t an option, face the direction in which you’re traveling. Again, it may help the disconnect between your visual sense and your inner ear. On a ferry, try moving from the stern (rear) to the bow (front) of the boat. Some people report sitting in the front seat reduces symptoms. In a car, consider swapping rear seats with someone in front.
Keep your eyes on the horizon
Focusing on a stationary object in the distance is another tactic that helps with visual stimulus. Again, you may need to move positions in the vehicle in which you’re traveling.
Some people find that lying down makes their motion sickness better. For others, standing up may be a better position. Your options will depend on your type of travel, so experiment to see what works best for you. If you’re in a car, leaning your head against your headrest may help by lessening your head movements.
Get some air (fan or outdoors)
Crack a window or go outdoors if your motion sickness is overcoming you. If the weather or your mode of travel doesn’t permit, turn the air vents toward you or consider using a fan to blow air on your face. Cigarette smoke may also make your sickness worse.
Nibble on crackers
Eating a light snack, like saltine crackers, may ease nausea. Foods that are heavy, greasy, or acidic may make your sickness worse, because they’re slow to digest. Plan ahead if the road stops on your travels mostly offer fast food options. Other good snack options include cereal, bread, other grains, apples, and bananas.
Drink some water or a carbonated beverage
Sips of cold water or a carbonated drink, like seltzer or ginger ale, can also curb nausea. Skip caffeinated beverages, like coffee and certain sodas, which may contribute to dehydration and make nausea worse. Other good choices include milk and apple juice.
Distract with music or conversation
Switch on the radio or strike up a conversation to keep your mind off how you’re feeling. You may be able to distract yourself enough to feel better. Researchers have discovered that listening to music may help with nausea and other physiological symptoms associated with motion sickness.
Put down the screen
People who develop motion sickness may have trouble reading books or text on different devices. This goes back to the sensory disconnect between the inner ear and eyes. If you’re focusing on something up close, you may make your symptoms worse. Consider switching to audiobooks, music, or even a nap to pass the time.
A variety of natural treatments may also help you stop motion sickness in its tracks. Remember: always ask your doctor for guidance on supplement use and dosage.
An acupressure point along your wrist called the nei-kuan (P6) may give you quick relief. Place the index, middle, and ring fingers of your right hand on the inside of your left wrist, starting under the crease. Your nei-kuan point is underneath your index finger, between the wrist tendons. Apply firm pressure on one or both wrists for four to five seconds.
Certain scents, like pure ginger and lavender essential oils, may also be helpful. Peppermint essential oil has been used to reduce nausea in patients in hospital. There are many ways to use oils, but diffusing has the lowest risk for interactions. You may purchase a portable diffuser for your trip and you only need to use a couple drops of oil per session. One hour is the maximum recommended time to diffuse. Taking sniffs from an essential oil bottle, or using an essential oil necklace would be more convenient in a moving vehicle.
Chamomile is an herb that helps to soothe the stomach, reduce acids, and relax stomach muscles. You can find chamomile tea at most grocery stores and at online retailers like Amazon.com. Consider steeping tea before you head on your trip, storing it in a travel mug, and drinking it hot or cold.
Licorice root lozenges
Licorice root is used to soothe stomach ulcer pain, stomach acid irritation, and help digestion. It may also help ward off nausea and vomiting. You may purchase lozenges online at retailers like Amazon.com. Serving size will depend on the brand you purchase. This option may taste good, but remember that it’s still considered an herbal supplement.
If these self-care measures don’t work, other options are available at your local drug store or through a doctor’s prescription.
Dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine are generally safe for children over the age of two years, but speak with a doctor about their dosage. You may become drowsy while taking antihistamines. If this is a concern, meclizine has less of a sedative effect than the other options.
Scopolamine is a prescription medicine that comes in either a pill or skin patch. Each patch, which is applied behind the ear, may provide relief for up to three days. There are potential side effects, like dry mouth.
People with glaucoma or other health issues should discuss this treatment with their doctors; it may not be an option in certain cases. This medication isn’t suitable for children. Do not let children lean up against the patch if you’re wearing one.
Promethazine is a prescription antihistamine drug used to treat motion sickness. It helps reduce the signals from your brain that cause you to vomit. Dosage for adults under 65 is 25 milligrams twice a day, with the first dose 30 minutes to one hour before travel. Children between 2 and 17 years may take between 12.5 and 25 milligrams twice a day.
People who travel often for work, and others who experience more severe motion sickness, may want to investigate long-term solutions, like supplementation or cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Take vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is often used to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, among other conditions, like anxiety. Boosting your levels may also help with motion sickness, though more research is needed in this area. The maximum daily dosage suggestion for adults is 100 milligrams per day.
Take 5-HTP + magnesium
Some scientists believe low serotonin levels in the brain may be linked to motion sickness and migraines. The supplements 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and magnesium may help raise serotonin. You can find these supplements alone or in combination at drug stores on online at retailers like Amazon.com. Seeing results with this treatment may take two to three weeks.
The herbs ginger and peppermint both have research to support its use for motion sickness and nausea. The average dosage for ginger is 550 milligrams (mg), taken once daily. For peppermint, the average dosage is 350 mg, taken twice per day.
Invest in acupressure bands
Acupressure bands, like Sea-Bands, stimulate your nei-kuan point continuously. These bands may take between two and five minutes after putting them on to be effective. They cost under $7 a pair and may be worn by adults and children over the age of 3.
Biofeedback therapy uses your thoughts to control your physical responses to stimuli, like motion. It’s been successful in combating airsickness in U.S. Air Force fliers.
To do this, a therapist connects sensors to different parts of your body to measure things like heart or respiration rate. You then work with the therapist to control your responses. Ask a doctor for a referral or search the BCIA directory for certified therapists.
If your job requires frequent travel, or if the potential for being sick makes you anxious before trips, make an appointment with a doctor. Prescription medications or long-term options like biofeedback therapy may help you overcome motion sickness.