May 20, 2021
2 min. read

Ask a Pharmacist: All About Motion Sickness


Summertime is approaching, and with the change in weather comes the opportunity for boat rides and road trips. If you’re like the one in three Americans who is considered highly susceptible to motion sickness, you may be wondering if you can handle the up and downs of these types of activities.

Luckily, the pharmacist is in. We’ve asked Viral Shah, Director of Clinical Services here at Medly, to answer all of your most pressing motion sickness questions, from what it feels like to what treatment options might look like. Read below to find out out how you can make this summer your smoothest one yet.

patient provider

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is a common condition caused by any type of transportation. It is also called car sickness, seasickness or airsickness. Motion sickness is alleviated as soon as the motion stops.

motion sickness

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include nausea, dizziness and fatigue. People experience these symptoms in a moving car, boat or on an airplane. Symptom onset is sudden and planning ahead to avoid motion sickness is the best course of action. Some patients may experience these symptoms when watching movies or playing video games.

What are the non-drug treatment options?

  • Patients often benefit from wearing a wristband that presses on an acupuncture point inside of the wrist. One commonly used brand is Sea-Band.
  • Ginger which is commonly used for nausea as a supplement or in teas can also be helpful with motion sickness.
  • When travelling pick seats where you will feel least motion. In the car, drive or sit in the front passenger seat. In the train, sit in the forward facing seat near the front and next to a window and in the plane, ask for a seat over the front edge of a wing.

motion sickness treatment

What are the drug options?

  • Antihistamines and Anticholinergic are recommended for motion sickness. Antihistamines used for motion sickness include Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and Meclizine (Bonine). Both are long acting antihistamines and are a little less sedating than other antihistamines. Medications for motion sickness are taken 60 minutes prior to travelling and can cause drowsiness so consulting with a prescriber or pharmacist is necessary. Anyone driving a car or operating heavy machinery should not take them.
  • Scopolamine (Transderm Scop) is an anticholinergic most commonly prescribed for motion sickness. It is applied topically behind the ear and applied less frequently. The patch will last three days and the most common side effect is dryness of mouth.

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