Order tablets that prevent you from getting motion sickness

Travel (or motion) sickness occurs when the brain confuses motion signals and vision. Travel sickness tablets or patches work well for reducing disorientation.


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Virginia Chachati

Reviewed by Virginia Chachati MPharm
(2013, University College London)
GPhC Registration number: 2087654

Information last reviewed 20/02/21

About

What is travel sickness?

Travel sickness, or motion sickness, refers to nausea or sickness experienced when travelling by car, train, boat or plane.

What causes travel sickness?

Travel sickness occurs when your brain receives conflicting information from your body. The vestibular system, or inner-ear canals, are responsible for balance and detecting changes in your body’s position. When you travel, your body is moving. However, your eyes might think your body is stationary, by following the movement of other objects, reading, or using electronic devices. Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives these confusing messages from your eyes and your vestibular system, leading to nausea, cold sweats, dizziness and vomiting.

Who is most likely to experience travel sickness?

Anyone can experience travel sickness, with some experiencing more severe symptoms than others. However, travel sickness is more common in children, pregnant women, and people taking certain medications.

Are sea-sickness and car-sickness the same?

Sea-sickness and car-sickness are both forms of motion sickness, caused by the eyes telling the brain that the body is stationary while the vestibular system detects motion.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of travel sickness?

Travel sickness is also known as motion sickness. Everyone experiences travel sickness in different ways and it normally depends on how they travel. You may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, looking pale, feeling tired and cold sweats or shivering. In some cases, you might feel dizzy, weak and lose your sense of balance.

Treatment

Travel sickness treatment options

Most travel sickness treatments are taken in advance of travel to prevent symptoms from occurring. Treatments include oral medications like Avomine, Kwells and transdermal patches like Scopoderm. While Kwells tablets work best if taken 30 minutes before travel, they can also be taken when you feel nausea coming on. Like Kwells, Scopoderm patches contain an antimuscarinic. They are applied to the skin before a journey. They are a good option for anyone who forgets to take tablets regularly or are going on long trips. Acupressure bands are a medicine-free option and work by applying pressure on the inside of the wrist, which may reduce nausea, and are non-drowsy.

Best non-drowsy travel sickness remedies

Drowsiness is a common side effect of antihistamines, like Avomine, and antimuscarinics, like Kwells. If you find acupressure bands to be effective, these can be a good non-drowsy alternative.

Travel sickness tablets vs patches vs acupressure bands

Travel sickness can be treated with medicines such as Avomine tablets, Kwells tablets and Scopoderm patches. Avomine contains an antihistamine, while Kwells and Scopoderm contain an antimuscarinic. These medicines work by interrupting messages sent from the vestibular system to the part of the brain, which triggers vomiting. They are all medicines that may cause drowsiness. Avomine is a tablet that you swallow once a day. Kwells tablets are chewable and taken up to three times a day. Scopoderm patches each last up to 72 hours.


Alternatively, you can try acupressure bands, a medicine-free option for nausea. However, results may vary from person to person. Acupressure bands work by exerting pressure on the P6 acupressure point on the inside of the wrist, which may relieve nausea and vomiting.

Tips to avoid travel sickness

There are some steps you can take to reduce the impact of travel sickness. Your position in a moving vehicle can make a difference, so try sitting in the front seat of a car or in the middle of a boat where there is less movement. If you begin to feel unwell, open a window and breathe in some fresh air. Try to stare at a fixed point on the horizon. Don’t read, watch films, or look at electronic devices if you know this makes you travel sick, and avoid looking at other cars passing by, or waves if you are on the water. Children can be distracted by talking or listening to music, and you can try taking regular breaks on a journey to take a walk and avoiding eating fatty or spicy foods before a long trip. Try chewing ginger sweets, eating ginger biscuits or sipping on ginger tea to settle nausea.

Does ginger help travel sickness?

Ginger is thought to help with travel sickness, particularly if you start taking it before your trip and regularly throughout. You can try drinking ginger tea, eating ginger sweets or ginger biscuits.

Can travel sickness be cured?

There is no known cure for travel sickness, although there are plenty of options for treating and preventing it. Many people grow out of motion sickness or become accustomed to regular travel and experience less severe symptoms.

Q&A

Can I use travel sickness treatments if I am experiencing nausea due to an inner ear problem?

Avomine tablets, which contain an antihistamine, can also be used to treat sickness triggered by other factors, including inner ear problems. For example, Avomine is commonly used to treat nausea from vertigo. Confirm with a doctor if Avomine is suitable for you as you may require an alternative treatment.

Is there a psychological factor to travel sickness?

There is a psychological element to motion sickness. The part of the brain that triggers nausea due to confusing signals from the eyes and the vestibular system, the area postrema, is the same part of the brain that triggers vomiting when a poison is detected. If your vestibular system senses motion while your eyes detect none or vice versa, the brain is tricked into thinking it is hallucinating, a possible response to being poisoned. This is thought to be the reason behind nausea and vomiting while travelling.

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