Beating motion sickness

Do you worry about travelling because you are often affected by motion sickness? You should know that it is possible to reduce the symptoms and even to prevent them.


Nausea and vomiting are the best known symptoms of motion sickness. They are usually preceded by a general feeling of discomfort, pallor (especially around the mouth), and cold sweats. Other individuals may yawn, suffer from frontal headaches, experience drowsiness, increased salivation or rapid breathing.


Typically, motion sickness occurs when your body feels movement that your eyes have not detected. This is the case, for instance, in the car. However, the reverse situation can also occur, that is, your eyes perceive movement that your body does not feel. The IMAX cinema or flight simulators are examples of this phenomenon. You see the horizon change quickly, but your body is not moving at all.

The mode of transportation influences the incidence of motion sickness. A cruise has a higher risk of inducing it than travel by airplane or car. The train is the mode of transportation that is least likely to cause motion sickness.



Most people adjust to the disparity between what the eyes perceive and the body feels. Motion sickness is a lot less frequent after repeated exposure to the same stimulus. Thus, motion sickness is generally much more common in children. Children who travel by airplane for the first time have a higher risk of motion sickness than those who have used that mode of transportation two or more times. 

Motion sickness risks

How can motion sickness be treated?


The effectiveness of certain treatments such as acupressure, herbal remedies, and homeopathy has not yet been thoroughly proven. These treatments can have a positive effect on certain people, but their effectiveness is anecdotal. There are three over-the-counter medications available that have proven to be effective. Each one has its advantages and its potential side effects.

Scopolamine (Transderm-V®)

This medication prevents nausea very effectively, but is not an effective treatment once symptoms are already present. Transderm-V®  comes in the form of a small patch to be placed behind the ear. The medication is absorbed by the skin and then reaches the central nervous system. It must be applied six to twelve hours prior to departure. The patch can be left in place for three days. It can be used solely for adults. Since its action is sustained, it is very useful for cruises and long trips by airplane.

Dimenhydrinate (Gravol®, etc.)

This medication effectively prevents and relieves nausea. Dimenhydrinate (Gravol®, etc.) is available in tablet, suppository, and syrup form. The different dosages make it possible to administer this medication to children starting at age two and to adults. To prevent motion sickness, it must be taken at least 30 minutes, and ideally one to two hours, prior to departure. Its effect can last for six to eight hours, depending on the chosen formulation. Due to its rapid action and its short-term effectiveness, dimenhydrinate is very useful for short trips such as by car or by airplane.

Meclizine (Bonamine®)

This medication effectively prevents and relieves nausea associated with motion sickness. To prevent motion sickness, a single dose a day of meclizine must be taken, at least one hour prior to departure. Meclizine is recommended for children over 12 and for adults. Due to its rapid action and its 24-hour duration of action, it is recommended for travel by car, airplane or for cruises of medium to long duration.

These three medications cause drowsiness. Avoid alcohol and activities requiring vigilance.

Note that some studies have revealed that ginger, a natural product, could have significant effectiveness against motion sickness. It would have the advantage of not causing drowsiness, contrary to the other products. Ginger in tablet and lozenge form is one of the products available by the manufacturers of Gravol®.

Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions about motion sickness or the available treatments. 


Send to a friend

Beating motion sickness

Do you worry about travelling because you are often affected by motion sickness? You should know that it is possible to reduce the symptoms and even to prevent them.