motion sickness remedies

Motion sickness remedies can be difficult to come by.  Try these as a solution.

Top 5 Motion Sickness Remedies

August 15, 2017 by Dr. Michael Jacobson, MD

You know the feeling. You're enjoying the scenery during a lovely car ride, or you're about to nod off on the airplane, when it hits you - dizziness, sweating, and nausea.  Motion sickness remedies are nowhere to be found.

If you're one of the many people who suffer from motion sickness, you know how quickly it can turn an ordinary trip into a nightmare.

The good news is that there are some tried-and-true things you can do to help alleviate those symptoms.

Keep reading for five motion sickness remedies you can try next time you travel.

What causes motion sickness?

First, let's review what causes you to get sick in the first place.

The most common source of motion sickness is traveling, whether by car, boat, plane or train. But it can also be caused by riding roller coasters, watching 3D movies, or wearing virtual-reality headsets.

Conflicting signals

Motion sickness happens when one part of your balance-sensing system (like your eyes or your inner ear) senses your body is in motion, but the other parts of your body don't.

In other words, your brain receives contradictory information and doesn't know if your body is moving or still. And those conflicting signals cause physical stress responses - better known as nausea, dizziness and the sweats.

Let's say you're inside a cruise ship. You might feel that the boat is rocking, but your eyes don't see any movement. Or consider virtual-reality headsets, where your eyes see that you're moving, but your body doesn't sense it.

In both of those examples, there is a conflict between your senses, and that causes motion sickness.

Now let's review five motion sickness remedies that you can try.

1. Focus on a fixed point

The first - and easiest - of our motion sickness remedies is to look at something that isn't moving outside of the vehicle.

If you're in a car or train, focus on a large building or a mountain in the distance. If you're on a boat, go on deck and look at the spot on the horizon where the water meets the sky.

Remember, motion sickness is caused when your body and brain are in disagreement. So looking at an external fixed point helps sync up your inner ear and your brain by allowing you to see the motion that your body is feeling.

2. Take a ginger supplement

Ginger is not only a delicious flavorful spice - it also has many health benefits, including aiding digestion and helping alleviate nausea. Taking a ginger supplement an hour or so before your trip is a simple way to naturally treat your symptoms.

If you're prone to motion sickness, it's also a great idea to always have ginger candies or a ginger ale on hand during your travels. But beware some candies and ales are not made with real ginger, so be sure to read the labels carefully.

Also, keep in mind that ginger can slow blood clotting, so you'll want to consult your doctor if this is a concern.

3. Wear a patch

If you're going on a trip that's going to last longer than just a few hours, you may want to consider getting a prescription from your doctor for a patch.

The patch contains the drug scopolamine, which prevents motion sickness symptoms by blocking the communication between certain nerves and the part of your brain that controls vomiting.

You place the patch on a hairless area behind your ear. Apply the patch at least 4 hours before you travel. It then releases a consistent dose of medicine for up to 72 hours, making it perfect for long road trips or cruises.

As with other prescriptions drugs, there may be side effects, so be sure to discuss them with your doctor to help you decide if this is the right motion sickness remedy for you.

4. Take over-the-counter antihistamines

Similar to the scopolamine patch, OTC antihistamines such as Dramamine and Benadryl block the signals to areas of the brain that control vomiting and nausea.

They can take up to an hour to start working, so you'll need to remember to take them shortly before you travel.

Antihistamines can make you drowsy or light-headed, so keep that in mind when deciding which of these motion sickness remedies is right for you. There are non-drowsy versions available, but they don't quell nausea like "standard" antihistamines do.

5. Wear a wristband

The Nei-Guan acupressure point is a spot on your arm about 2" below your wrist crease between your two tendons. Applying pressure to this point is known to help relieve nausea, an upset stomach, and motion sickness.

You can apply the pressure yourself using your thumb, but that could get tedious after a while, especially if you're going on a long trip. So instead, consider wearing a wristband that will do the work for you.

The wristband is an elastic bracelet that uses a small bead to apply steady pressure to the Nei-Guan point. You can wear one on each wrist, and because the band doesn't use any drugs or medications, there are no side effects.

A few more motion sickness remedies

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when traveling if you're prone to motion sickness:

  • Sit in the front seat of the car. Or better yet, drive.
  • Don't travel on an empty stomach, but don't overeat either. Try small, frequent, easy-to-digest snacks like crackers, peanuts or a granola bar.
  • If possible, stop often for fresh air breaks.
  • Don't drink alcohol right before traveling.
  • Don't smoke while traveling.
  • Keep your head as still as possible.
  • Don't read or watch videos in the car.

Find a remedy that works for you

Motion sickness can turn even the best trip into a miserable situation. One minute, you're fine, and the next, you're begging for a sickness bag. It's enough to make you throw in the travel towel.

But don't give up just yet! Give these motion sickness remedies a try. We hope you'll find at least one that works well for you so you can travel your heart out without worry.

If you have any further questions about motion sickness or would like to make an appointment with one of our experienced physicians, contact us today.

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About The Author
Dr. Michael J. Jacobson MD

Dr. Michael Jacobson, MD

Dr. Michael Jacobson, MD is an otolaryngologist with Hampton Roads ENT - Allergy in both Gloucester, VA & Williamsburg, VA.  

I particularly enjoy treating pediatric patients as well as helping those with nasal and sinus issues.  Some of my most rewarding work has been helping those facing the challenge of a new cancer diagnosis.  As your doctor, I will work with you to understand your ENT concerns and to develop a personalized treatment plan.