People who get carsick, seasick or airsick are experiencing motion sickness. The condition causes cold sweats, nausea and vomiting. Women and children are more prone to motion sickness, but it can affect anyone. You can take steps while traveling to reduce your risk of getting sick. Medications like the scopolamine patch can prevent nausea.
Motion sickness occurs when your brain can’t make sense of information sent from your eyes, ears and body. Lots of motion — in a car, airplane, boat, or even an amusement park ride — can make you feel queasy, clammy or sick to your stomach. Some people vomit. Being carsick, seasick or airsick is motion sickness.
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An estimated one in three people get motion sickness at some point. Women, and children age two to 12 are most at risk. Still, the condition can affect anyone.
These factors increase your chances of getting motion sickness:
Your brain receives signals from motion-sensing parts of your body: your eyes, inner ears, muscles and joints. When these parts send conflicting information, your brain doesn’t know whether you’re stationary or moving. Your brain’s confused reaction makes you feel sick.
For example, when riding in a car, your:
Many actions can trigger motion sickness, such as:
Motion sickness can take you by surprise. You may feel fine one moment and then suddenly experience some of these symptoms:
Your healthcare provider asks you to describe your symptoms and what brings on these symptoms. Your healthcare provider may also perform a physical exam and check your eyes and ears.
You have some options to prevent motion sickness or treat symptoms. Motion sickness treatments include:
These actions can lower your chances of getting sick or ease symptoms if they occur:
You should always face forward when traveling. Where you sit can also make a difference to minimize disruptive motion:
Motion sickness can make traveling stressful and unpleasant. But symptoms should go away when you stop moving.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Almost everyone feels motion sickness at some point. The queasiness and nausea may make you throw up. You can’t always escape the movement that’s making you sick, especially when traveling. If you’re prone to motion sickness, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to prevent getting sick and what to do if you get sick. You can take steps to have a better travel experience without the need for a barf bag.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.
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