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Motion Sickness (cont.)

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Symptoms

Motion sickness may cause:

  • A general feeling of being unwell (malaise).
  • Nausea or vomiting, or both.
  • Headache.
  • Cold sweating, which means you sweat even though you're not overheated.
  • A pale appearance.

Symptoms usually go away soon after the 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 subside. But when you are back on land, the lack of motion can cause symptoms to return for a short time.

Usually, symptoms go away within 3 days of the end of a trip. If they do not, see your doctor. You may have another condition that causes nausea and vomiting, such as stomach flu or an inner ear problem.

Exams and Tests

There are no exams or tests for motion sickness.

Treatment Overview

The best way to treat motion sickness is to stop the motion. If you can't stop the motion, sit or lie 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 you are inside, move to the center of the ship.

You also can take prescription and nonprescription medicine to prevent or reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Most medicines work best if taken before travel. The medicines work in different ways. Some are sedatives that minimize the effect of motion. Others reduce nausea and vomiting.

The following medicines may help prevent symptoms of motion sickness:

  • Scopolamine (Transderm Scop)
  • Promethazine (Promethegan)
  • Antihistamines, including dimenhydrinate (such as Dramamine). Do not give your child antihistamines unless your child's doctor has told you to. If the doctor tells you to give your child medicine, be sure to follow the doctor's advice on how to give it.

People often try alternative methods of preventing motion sickness such as taking ginger or wearing acupressure bands. There is little scientific evidence that these methods work. But there is no harm in trying them.

Physical therapy may help people who have significant problems with motion sickness. Your physical therapist will guide you through repeated motions in a controlled situation to help your balance-sensing system adapt to motion. No large studies have been done to test this treatment.

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