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What is travel sickness?

Travel sickness, otherwise known as motion sickness, is a feeling of nausea when you travel by car, train, boat or plane.

People commonly affected by travel sickness are women and children between the ages of 3 and 12. Children aged 2 and under and people over the age of 50 don’t tend to suffer from these types of sickness.

What are the symptoms of travel sickness?

Travel sickness symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Abdominal discomfort

On long trips your body may adapt to the movement, meaning your symptoms may diminish or eventually disappear.

What causes travel sickness?

The typical causes of motion sickness are travelling long and short distances. People commonly experience car sickness, but other forms of transport such as boats, trains and planes can all cause travel sickness.

The main reasons for sickness when travelling are thought to be the repetitive movements. This causes an imbalance between what you see and what your inner ears tell your brain. The inner ears help you balance.   

Fairground rides and rollercoasters are further causes of sickness for people who experience travel sickness.

How can you treat travel sickness?

There are a number of different kinds of travel sickness medicine available. Motion sickness tablets are the most common travel sickness cures, but in severe cases your doctor may prescribe travel sickness patches.

These anti sickness patches are stuck behind the ear before you travel and can prevent travel sickness for three days. The active ingredient in Scopoderm patches, called hyoscine, is also available in tablets.

Other travel sickness tablets are antihistamines containing active ingredients such as cinnarizine, cyclizine or promethazine. These motion sickness pills can be less effective than medications containing hyoscine, but they are also less likely to cause side effects.

How to prevent travel sickness

Besides taking travel sickness remedies before you travel, there are a few other steps you can take to help prevent motion sickness. These include:

  • Looking straight ahead at a stationary point in the distance.
  • Trying to get some fresh air if possible, either by stopping regularly or travelling with a window open.
  • Trying to limit the amount of movement you experience, for example by sitting in the front of a car or in the middle of a boat.

If you are prone to travel sickness, it’s a good idea not to try and read, use electronic devices, or watch films.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best travel sickness tablets?

It depends on your preference. Travel sickness pills containing promethazine (such as Avomine) are less likely to make you drowsy, but hyoscine, the active ingredient in Scopoderm, is considered more effective by some.

* Please note results, timeframe and individual responses to treatments may vary from person to person. If you do need medical advice you should always speak to a doctor, pharmacist or appropriate medical professional.