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Motion Sickness


  • Dizziness or nausea from spinning or rolling motions

Symptoms of Motion Sickness

  • Dizziness and unsteady walking
  • Nausea and vomiting are also common
  • Before age 6, the main symptom is dizziness and the need to lie down.
  • After age 12, the main symptom is nausea (feeling sick to the stomach).

Causes of Motion Sickness

  • Symptoms are mainly triggered by motion. Sea sickness or amusement park sickness are the most common types. Fun-park rides that spin or whirl are some of the main causes. The Tilt-a-whirl is a good example of a ride to avoid. Also seen during travel by train, aircraft and even car.
  • The cause is a sensitive center in the inner ear. This center helps to maintain balance.
  • As a car passenger driving on winding roads, 25% of people will have symptoms. Under extreme conditions (e.g., high seas) over 90% of people have symptoms.
  • Strongly genetic: if one parent has it, 50% of the children will have it.
  • It is not related to emotional problems. The child cannot control it with will power.
  • Motion sickness symptoms are often worse in children.

When To Call

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Motion sickness symptoms last more than 8 hours
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Motion sickness symptoms

Care Advice

What You Should Know About Motion Sickness:

  • Motion sickness is a common normal reaction that occurs in 25% of people.
  • Caused by increased sensitivity of the inner ear.
  • It is not related to emotional problems or any physical disease.
  • In the future, take a special medicine ahead of time to prevent it.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.

Rest - Lie Down:

  • Have your child lie down and rest. If your child goes to sleep, all the better.

Fluids - Offer Sips:

  • Give only sips of clear fluids. Water is best. Do this until the stomach settles down.


  • Prepare for vomiting. Keep a vomiting pan handy.
  • Usually, children don't vomit more than once with motion sickness.

What to Expect:

  • All symptoms of motion sickness usually go away in 4 hours after stopping the motion.
  • As for the future, people usually don't outgrow motion sickness. Sometimes, it becomes less severe in adults.

Motion Sickness Medicine - Dramamine:

  • Buy some dimenhydrinate tablets (such as Dramamine) at your drug store. No prescription is needed. In the future, give it to prevent motion sickness.
  • It comes in 50 mg regular and chewable tablets or in 25 mg Kids chewable tablets.
  • Dosage by age: do not use under age 2.
  • 2 to 5 years (12.5 mg): ½ Kids chewable
  • 6 to 11 years (25 mg): 1 Kids chewable
  • 12 and older (50 mg): 1 regular tablet or chewable
  • Give the medicine 1 hour before traveling or going to a fun-park.
  • The tablets give 6 hours of protection and are very helpful.
  • Benadryl can also be used to prevent motion sickness. Use this if you do not have any Dramamine.

Prevention Tips for Car Trips:

  • If your child is over 12 years old, sit him in the front seat.
  • Before age 12, have your child sit in the middle back seat. This should help him look out the front window.
  • Have your child look out the front window, not the side one.
  • Discourage looking at books or movies during car travel.
  • Keep a window cracked to provide fresh air.
  • Avoid exhaust fumes from other vehicles.
  • Meals: have your child eat light meals before trips. Some children can just tolerate crackers and water.
  • Plastic Bags: always carry a ziplock plastic bag for vomiting emergencies.

Wrist Bands - Prevention:

  • Acupressure bands (such as Sea-Bands) are helpful for some adults.
  • There is no reason they shouldn't work for some children.
  • Put them on before car trips or other causes of motion sickness.
  • The pressure button goes over the center of the wrist. Place ½ inch (1 cm) above the wrist crease.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Any symptoms last over 8 hours
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse


Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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