NJM Blog

Motion Sickness Symptoms, Prevention, & Treatment

Young woman getting carsickness.

Motion sickness is a sensation caused while traveling on the road, on the water, or in the air. It may even happen on an amusement ride or while using a virtual reality device.

What causes it?

A common cause of motion sickness is conflicting signals sent to the brain by your eyes and inner ear (your eyes see motion, but your inner ear doesn’t sense it). Contributing factors include inner ear disorders, migraines, pregnancy, or a family history of motion sickness.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of motion sickness include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, cold sweat, or rapid breathing.

Preventing it:

Actions you can take to minimize the sensation include:

  • look out the window at the horizon

  • sit in the front passenger seat in a car or bus, and a forward-facing seat on a train

  • choose a window seat on a plane, train, or bus

  • sit in the middle of a boat and book a cabin toward the front or the center of a cruise ship

  • stay hydrated by drinking water

  • eat a light snack such as saltine crackers or a banana

  • avoid spicy, greasy, or acidic foods

  • suck on hard candy or lozenges (peppermint or natural ginger), or drink non-caffeinated soda with real ginger

  • regulate your breathing by taking slow and steady breaths

  • lower windows or direct AC vents to blow air on your face

  • restrict reading or viewing your smartphone or other devices

Treating it:

You may want to consult your physician about over–the–counter or prescription medications if you experience repeated motion sickness

“Motion Sickness,” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles, (Last reviewed on 01/18/2021) WebMD Editorial Contributors, “Why Do I Get Motion Sickness?”, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/motion-sickness, (Medically Reviewed on September 3, 2022) Mayo Clinic Staff, “Motion sickness: First aid,” https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-motion-sickness/basics (Oct. 14, 2020)

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.