Motion Sickness

That bad feeling attributed to motion sickness is nausea. Symptoms include dizziness, upset stomach and may lead to vomiting.


We often associate nausea with motion, just close your eyes and spin around as fast as you can, stop and open your eyes. Just the thought of it makes you sick, doesn’t it?


Some of us are more prone to nausea associated with rapid movement, speed or travel. Movement of your eyes, not congruent (matched) with your body movement can cause nausea. For some, watching a 3D movie, sitting too close to the screen at the movie theatre, or reading a book in a vehicle can trigger that green feeling. Sitting further from a screen or focusing on an object further away can help lessen nausea by aligning what you see with the motion your body feels.


Motion sickness can also be triggered when you are sick, especially if your sinuses or ears are affected. Balance and the sensation of imbalance are a function of the canals of your middle ear. Medications may also cause or contribute to symptoms of nausea. Discuss this concern if you see a sticker or caution on your medication mentioning dizziness as a side effect.


For unexplained nausea, recurrent symptoms of nausea, or symptoms lasting beyond a day, seek medical advice as soon as possible. If symptoms include fever, seek medical attention right away.


Non-medicinal treatment for motion sickness includes avoiding the trigger, but other prevention and treatment strategies include:


  • Eating small amounts of healthy food/snacks while traveling
  • Drink sufficient water – keep hydrated
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine
  • Sit in places with less movement (front of car, wing area of plane)
  • Sleep while traveling (if you’re not driving)
  • Get fresh, cooler air
  • Cool compress on the forehead
  • Pressure point wristband


Treatment with a motion sickness medication may be an option. Discuss the safety of using these medications with your pharmacist. Dimenhydrinate should be used one hour prior to travel but will cause sleepiness and affect your reaction time.  Another medication in the form of a patch applied behind the ear, scopolamine, cannot be used if you have glaucoma. These medications should not be used if you are driving or are operating equipment requiring attention.


Your Pharmachoice pharmacist can review your health history to ensure that the treatment option chosen won’t interfere with medications or worsen conditions that you have.

Phil Hudson
Waterloo, ON