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Motion Sickness


Motion sickness is not an illness but a normal but exaggerated response to unfamiliar motion of increased intensity and duration.Sometimes it is referred to as sea sickness or car sickness.

Risk factors are:

  • Sea > Air > Car > Train
  • Women > Men
  • Inexperienced travellers > Experienced travellers
  • Young age > Older age
  • Passengers > Crews
  • Passengers > Drivers

Sign & Symptoms

Nausea, sweating, salivation, dizziness, fatique and vomiting are usual symptoms. Symptoms are rare below 2 years old and peak between the ages of 3 and 12. The elderly are less susceptible.


Drugs such as antihistamines or scopolamines as advised by doctor.

Prevention & Precautions

Specific advice on preventing/treating Motion Sickness:-

  • Don’t travel on an empty stomach; this seems to promote symptoms. Susceptible children should not have large meals just prior to and during trips but take frequent drinks of fruit juice or soda.
  • If nauseated, keep head stationary. Don’t read but listen to music.
  • Increasing ventilation, decreasing food intake and avoiding alcohol are other techniques to reduce motion sickness. Natural remedies e.g. ginger root, may offer some benefit.

In a vehicle:-

  • In a car, sit in front seat. Look forward at the horizon, rather than from the side windows.
  • On a boat, try to stay in the middle (amidship). Lie supine with head supported on pillows. Keep head still and eyes closed. If on deck, look out at the horizon. One trick: pretend ‘dancing with the ship’.
  • On an airplane, request a seat in mid-section of cabin where movements are less pronounced. Lean back in seat, keep head still and look straight ahead.
  • Drugs commonly used for prevention are the scopolamine preparations and the antihistamines.

References organisation/ support

International Travel & Health, WHO 2006


Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norhayati Rusli
Reviewer : Wong Swee Fong