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Motion Sickness

By Erica Martin, M.D.

Child on Ride image

Motion sickness is very common. A simple swel​l of the sea, bounce in the car or sway of the ride at the amusement park can make anyone’s stomach turn up-side-down.

Cause of Motion Sickness

Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, eyes and nerves in the extremities that detect motion, send conflicting messages to the brain. One part of your body may sense your body is moving, while the other part does not see the motion. This leads to a disagreement between the senses and can result in motion sickness. Signs of motion sickness may include:

  • Pale appearance
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Complains of feeling hot, although not warm to touch

Preventing and Treating Motion Sickness

With the holidays upon us, most families are gearing up for some type of travel. Boys Town Pediatrics has several tips on how to prevent motion sickness:

  • Provide a very light snack before the activity.
  • Avoid strong smelling odors.
  • Wear layered clothing and adjust as needed.
  • Drink plenty of water and ensure the body is hydrated.
  • Make frequent stops.
  • Do not sit facing backwards from the direction of travel.
  • Focus the attention on listening to the radio and talking.
  • Open vent for a source of fresh air.
  • Avoid reading or games that cause constant focus.

If motion sickness occurs during your travels, the best way to treat motion sickness is try to stop the motion. If you cannot stop the motion, try laying your child down or having him sit in an area with the least amount of movement. Remind your child to take big, long breaths. You can also provide him or her with a damp towel which should be applied to the forehead.

When to See a Doctor

If your child has motion sickness, and your family is planning an activity that may trigger the sickness, talk to your child’s pediatrician.  Medication may be available to help prevent motion sickness.  If your child is having motion sickness symptoms, but they are not involved with movement activities, schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor.