You can do things that may help relieve motion sickness immediately, like looking out to the horizon. Some long-term solutions, including medications and vitamins, may also help.
Any travel — automobile, plane, train, or ship — may suddenly bring on motion sickness. Motion sickness can cause symptoms ranging from mild nausea to dizziness, sweating, and vomiting.
Before starting any new medication or supplement, you should check with a doctor. Some may interact with your current medication or underlying conditions.
Changing positions or distracting yourself when you first notice motion sickness may help ease your symptoms before they become severe. The following are some tips that may provide you with some immediate relief.
If you’re a passenger, consider taking the wheel of the vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that motion sickness occurs when the movement your eyes see is different from the movement your inner ear senses. These senses may connect better if you’re driving the car, reducing your symptoms.
Face the direction you’re going
If driving isn’t an option, face the direction in which you’re traveling. Again, it may help disconnect your visual sense and 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 the rear seats with someone in front.
Keep your eyes on the horizon
You may also find that focusing on a stationary object in the distance helps with visual stimulus. Again, you may need to switch or move positions in the vehicle you are traveling in.
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. In other words, you may need to experiment a bit to find the best position for you.
Get some air (fan or outdoors)
You may find that opening a window or going outdoors may help with motion sickness. 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.
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. You may want to pack your own snacks, which could include easy-to-digest foods like:
- other grains
Drink some water or a carbonated beverage
Sips of cold water or a carbonated drink, like seltzer or ginger ale, may also help curb your nausea. Skip caffeinated beverages, like coffee and certain sodas, which may contribute to dehydration that can make nausea worse. Other good choices can include milk and apple juice.
Distract with music or conversation
Switch on the radio or start a conversation to keep your mind off how you’re feeling. You may be able to distract yourself enough to feel better.
In a 2022 meta-analysis, researchers concluded that listening to music can help with post-operative vomiting, though they found little effect on nausea itself. Still, it is possible that listening to music may help a person prevent vomiting during their travels.
Put down the screen
People with motion sickness may have trouble reading books or texts on different devices. This happens due to the sensory disconnect between the inner ear and the eyes. So, if you’re focusing on something up close, you may make your symptoms worse
This can be particularly bad for video gamers or people
A variety of natural treatments may also help you stop motion sickness. Remember: always ask a doctor for guidance on supplement use and dosage before starting.
Stimulating an acupressure point along your wrist called the Nei Guan (P6)
There are other acupressure points that you can stimulate to help relieve nausea or vomiting. Learn more about 7 Pressure points for nausea.
Certain scents, like pure peppermint essential oil, may also be helpful. A 2016 study found that exposing people to peppermint’s scent helped reduce post-operative nausea.
There are many ways to use oils, but inhalation has the lowest interaction risk, though experts recommend diffusing for one hour or less to minimize any potential risks. Inhaling a high amount of essential oils for longer than an hour could, in theory, cause nausea.
You may find that taking sniffs from an essential oil bottle or using an essential oil necklace is more convenient in a moving vehicle.
Try natural remedies
You can often find these supplements at a local pharmacy, health food store, or online. You may find that brewing tea with these herbs may help settle your stomach.
Licorice root lozenges
People use licorice root to soothe stomach ulcer pain, stomach acid irritation, and indigestion. It may also help ward off nausea and vomiting. Experts
You may purchase lozenges in a pharmacy or online. The serving size will depend on the brand you purchase.
If these self-care measures don’t work, you may want to consider trying medical options available at your local drugstore. You can find medications in both over-the-counter and prescription forms.
Antihistamines typically help with allergies. However, you may find that using OTC drugs containing dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), or meclizine (Antivert) may help.
Children over the age of 2 can often safely take dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine, but you should speak with a doctor about their dosage.
You may become drowsy while taking antihistamines, so you may not want to take them if you plan to drive.
Scopolamine (Transderm Scop, Scopace, Maldemar) is a prescription medication that comes in either a pill or as a skin patch. You apply the patch behind the ear for several days. However, you may notice some side effects, such as a dry mouth.
People with glaucoma or other health issues should discuss this treatment with a doctor since it may not be an option in certain cases.
Children, pregnant or nursing people, people with liver or kidney problems, or older adults should consult with their doctor
Promethazine is a prescription antihistamine drug used to treat motion sickness. It helps reduce the signals from your brain that cause you to vomit.
The dosage for adults under 65 is 25 milligrams (mg) twice daily, with the first dose 30 minutes to one hour before travel. Children between 2 and 17 years may take between 12.5 and 25 mg twice daily.
Speak with the child’s doctor if they have any medical conditions to ensure no interaction with any medication.
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
Boosting your levels may also help with motion sickness, though more research is needed in this area.
Take 5-HTP + magnesium
Another 2019 study found that 5-HTP given to patients before elective surgery significantly reduced postoperative nausea and vomiting and the serotonin levels in their brains. This is more evidence that serotonin can cause nausea and vomiting.
You can find these supplements alone or in combination at drug stores or online at retailers like Amazon. Seeing results with this treatment may take some time.
Speak with a doctor before using these supplements to relieve nausea and vomiting. Taking too much 5-HTP can also cause nausea and be dangerous at high levels. Taking too much magnesium can cause you to feel sleepy and have difficulty breathing.
Invest in acupressure bands
Wearing an acupressure band can help relieve nausea. People have been wearing acupressure bands for this purpose for centuries.
This practice has few side effects and little potential harm, so doctors often recommend it to relieve motion sickness or nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Acupressure bands are also one of the approaches
Biofeedback therapy uses your thoughts to control physical responses to stimuli like motion.
People with vestibular disorders that cause dizziness, vomiting, and nausea may benefit from biofeedback. It is also recommended by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a way to relieve motion sickness.
With biofeedback, you can learn to respond to early signs of nausea with breathing, relaxation, and focus exercises. A biofeedback machine can show you how you progress,
To use this therapy, a therapist connects sensors to different body parts to measure things like heart or respiration rate. You then work with the therapist to control your responses.
This therapy is less commonly used in primary care, but you can ask your doctor for a referral or search the BCIA directory for certified therapists.
Your symptoms should subside when the motion stops. Motion sickness doesn’t lead to long-term complications. You may even get used to motion on a longer journey, like a cruise, after several days.
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 may help you overcome motion sickness.
The following sections provide answers to your frequently asked questions about motion sickness.
Is motion sickness psychological?
Motion sickness is not psychological. Experts suggest it occurs when what you see does not match what your inner ear is feeling. However, some experts suggest that psychology could play a role in motion sickness. The theory is that previous sickness may trigger memories and possibly worse responses.
Can you train yourself not to be motion sick?
According to a 2021 study, you may be able to train your mind to no longer become motion sick. However, additional studies are needed to fully prove the effectiveness of training the mind to stop motion sickness.
Motion sickness is an acute issue that occurs in some people when traveling. It can occur in cars, boats, planes, or any moving vehicle.
You can take steps to help alleviate your nausea and prevent vomiting. Solutions can include taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, using pressure points, focusing on a fixed point, and other methods.
If natural solutions do not work, you may want to talk with a doctor about your symptoms. They may be able to recommend additional therapies or prescribe medication to help