What You Need to Know about Motion Sickness or Seasickness

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness, also called seasickness, is a common disturbance of the inner ear. This is the area of the body that affects your sense of balance and equilibrium. Motion sickness happens when your brain receives conflicting messages about motion and your body's position in space. The conflicting messages are delivered from your inner ear, your eyes (what you see), your skin receptors (what you feel), and muscle and joint sensors. For example, you might become airsick because your eyes cannot see the turbulence that is tossing the plane from side to side. Motion sickness can occur with any mode of travel: ship, plane, train, bus, or car.

What are the symptoms of motion sickness?

Symptoms of motion sickness include dizziness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can strike suddenly, progressing from simply not feeling well to cold sweats, dizziness, and then vomiting.

Motion sickness is more common in women and in children 2-12 years old. People who suffer from migraine headaches are also more prone to motion sickness.

What can I do to prevent or minimize motion sickness?

If you know you have motion sickness or might be prone to it, consider this advice:

Other tips to prevent or minimize motion sickness

How is motion sickness treated?

Motion sickness can be treated with over-the-counter and prescription drug products.

Of the drug products mentioned above, only dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine are recommended for use in young children.

Nonpharmaceutical remedies: Numerous nondrug options have been promoted as being helpful in relieving or preventing motion sickness. In most cases, the proof supporting these products is not as rigorous as that of approved drugs. However, you may want to try one of these options:



This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 7/11/2016