Symptoms and Signs of Motion Sickness

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/8/2022

Doctor's Notes on Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a common condition that occurs when the movement you see is different than what the inner ear senses. Motion sickness is not an illness in itself, but it is considered to be a form of dizziness. Motion sickness is common when traveling, such as seasickness (travel by boat), airsickness (plane), and carsickness (motor vehicles). Slow movement or movement in two different directions (such as up and down plus back and forth) at the same time are most likely to cause motion sickness. For reasons that are not completely understood, motion sickness is more common in people with migraines and vestibular migraines, in women (especially during menstruation or pregnancy), and among Asians and  a boat

The main symptoms of motion sickness include 

Other symptoms of motion sickness include 

  • sweating,
  • increased salivation, and
  • feeling unwell (malaise).

Most of the time, motion sickness symptoms stop when the motion stops, but some people may have symptoms that last for up to a few days.

What is the treatment for motion sickness?

There are several medicines that may prevent and/or reduce symptoms:

  • Antihistamines (0nes that cause drowsiness!)
  • Scopolamine (oral or patches); usually taken 4 hours before exposure to event like a boat or airplane ride
  • Dramamine
  • Promethazine
  • Meclizine

Over-the-counter preparations of these medications may be available.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.