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Motion Sickness: Teen Version


What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is when you feel dizzy or nauseated while riding in the car, a boat, an airplane, a train, or on amusement park rides. Motion sickness is common. The problem is due to an inherited sensitivity of the equilibrium center located in the semicircular canals (inner ear). It is not related to emotional problems.

How is it treated?

Lie down and keep a vomiting pan handy. Take only sips of clear fluids until your stomach settles down. If you can go to sleep it will usually help. You probably won't vomit more than once, and all symptoms disappear in about 4 hours.

How can I prevent motion sickness?

  • Car trips: Sit in the front seat and at window level and look out the front window, not the side one. Don’t look at books or watch DVDs during car travel. Keep a window cracked to provide fresh air. Avoid exhaust fumes from other vehicles.
  • Amusement parks: Avoid rides that spin (like the Tilt-a-Whirl). Some people can't even look at whirling rides without becoming motion sick.
  • Boat trips: Avoid them when practical. Otherwise, stay on deck and look at the horizon. Boating on small lakes is usually tolerated.
  • Air travel: Airsickness can be helped by selecting a seat near the wings or center of the aircraft, since turbulence is felt least there.
  • Meals: Eat light meals before trips. Some people can just tolerate crackers and water.
  • Plastic bags: Always carry a ziplock plastic bag for vomiting emergencies.
  • Anti-nausea medicines: In the future, take Dramamine or Bonine to prevent motion sickness. They can be purchased without a prescription. Dramamine comes in 50-mg tablets and chewable tablets. Take the medicine at least 1 hour before traveling or going to an amusement park. The medicine gives 6 hours of protection.
  • Wrist bands: Acupressure bands (such as SeaBands) are effective for some people. Put them on before car trips or other causes of motion sickness. The pressure button goes over the center of the wrist and one-half inch (1 cm) above the wrist crease.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-07-20
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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