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Home / Travel Health / Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness

Information about travel sickness symptoms, causes and treatment online

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Motion sickness - also referred to as travel sickness - presents a large inconvenience to many people. It is particularly associated with traveling in a car, but can also as a result of air or sea travel. During motion, the vestibular system of the body (which helps maintain a sense of balance) and the eye send mixed messages to the brain. This confusion results in the symptoms of motion sickness.

Available Treatments for Motion Sickness


  • Reduces motion sickness symptoms
  • Speeds up the recovery time
  • Promotes your natural body clock
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  • Prevent motion sickness
  • Minimise symptoms caused by travel
  • For sea sickness, car, plane or train
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  • Minimise motion sickness
  • Continue your journey with ease
  • Speedy recovery time
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What is motion sickness?

An extremely common condition in the UK, motion sickness is a series of movements your body is unfamiliar with and can also be referred as travel sickness or specific depending on your triggers such as car sickness, airsickness or sea sickness for example.

As your body isn't used to these repeated motions - whether it's on coach, train, boat and car, or even the motion in a computer game - your brain becomes confused, resulting in various signals being sent from your mind throughout the body. This results in the unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, sweating, nausea and vomiting, to name four of the most frequent occurring signs.

It's important to note that travel sickness can make you feel like you're going to be sick. You don't need to be sick, or vomit, to have the condition. Travel sickness should not hold anyone back from freely moving around, therefore it is beneficial for those who have the condition to seek the appropriate help.[1]

What causes motion sickness?

Triggers of motion sickness

These can vary from each individual and only you will be the best judge on what personally affects your condition. It could be a vehicle, or something less known. You may find you are fine on trains, but suffer symptoms on ships, for example, and many find the longer the journey, the worse the effects.

  • car journey Coaches or car journeys
  • plane journeys Plane journeys
  • ships Boats or ships (in particular ferry rides)
  • train rides Train rides
  • whilst travelling Trying to read whilst travelling
  • pregnancy Pregnancy

Certain triggers such as food smells can trigger the condition, especially those associated with travel. For example, petrol has been known to be a prompter and foods with strong odours.

How does motion sickness happen?

During motion, the vestibular system of the body sends messages to the brain to establish balance and movement. This is a highly complex network system of nerves, channels and fluids in your inner ear, according to the NHS resources, which your brain can use to determine movement.

Motion sickness happens because, whilst your brain is processing your movement, it is not working at a fast enough rate to constantly update the vibration and jolting (one reason why a rocky ferry ride often makes people sick even if they're not prone to motion sickness) meaning the vestibular system becomes puzzled. This confusion results in the symptoms of travel sickness, as the motion your body is feeling is different to the signals being sent by your brain.

Those who are more prone to travel sickness have a sensitive vestibular system that often tells the brain you are sitting still whilst you are travelling.

Symptoms of motion sickness

Having travel sickness can lead to worry every time you're in a situation that triggers sickness, and the severity does vary across the board. You may experience a couple or all of these symptoms depending on your triggers and how sensitive you are to movement:

  • symptomsDizziness
  • symptomsNausea
  • symptomsVomiting
  • symptomsPale skin (face)
  • symptomsCold sweat
  • symptomsIncrease in saliva production

Other symptoms may include headaches and migraines, drowsiness, fatigue and a change in breathing. Some find that their motion sickness can subside throughout the journey, whilst others will feel unwell from start to finish.

The symptoms of travel sickness can be disorienting and unpleasant at best, however there is treatment and certain prevention tips you can take to minimise the risk.[2]

How to treat motion sickness

Any sort of motion sickness is most effectively dealt with when using proven treatment, especially as it is a temporary and can be taken only at the time most needed. The most popular forms of travel sickness treatment can alleviate symptoms considerably. Whilst hyoscine and antihistamines are the most popular and clinically proven, you can try some of the self-help techniques with that to help further.



Some find antihistamines to be their preferred choice of medication, although they are not specifically for travel sickness so some find them not as effective as the hyoscine hydrobromide options available. At HealthExpress, we offer Avomine which is highly tolerable, which many children able to take the tablets. Whilst you can only order medication for yourself if you're above 18 online in the UK, you can obtain Avomine for your children after a doctor's appointment.


The most effective medicine for motion sickness comes in the form of hyoscine and is available in a couple of formats including patches and tablets. These work by preventing the vestibular system from connecting with the brain, nipping the symptoms in the bud. After being taken just before you travel – 30-60 minutes before – hyoscine work for up to 72 hours.

Only available on prescription, hyoscine medication is only available after a doctor's appointment, something of which you can do online at HealthExpress. We offer two popular choices including Kwells in tablet form and Scopoderm in patch form to suit all.

Home remedies

Whilst medication is the best way to avoid travel sickness, as it is clinically proven to be very effective, you may also find certain remedies can help. These may be some trial-and-error here to find the best options for you, and you can always contact a medical professional for specific advice on helping your particular form of motion sickness.

  • Ginger – The root of the ginger plant is said to have qualities to ease nausea, meaning it goes hand-in-hand with combatting travel sickness. This could be biscuits and cookies, drinks, natural tablets or fresh ginger
  • Acupuncture – Travel sickness bands work in this way by applying pressure to the inside of your wrist, and whilst they aren't proven, some people find them effective
  • Keeping hydrated – Drinking plenty of water or simple juices such as apple or orange can help to settle the stomach

How to prevent motion sickness

If you're suffering from motion sickness, there are some tactics that can help:

  • Distraction – Listening to your favourite music, conversation and audio books can all help to take your mind off the nausea and other symptoms
  • Fixed glaze – Staring at a certain point into the distance, usually on the horizon, can help you eyes focus whilst staring into any of the foreground or reading can make it much worse
  • Close your eyes – Closing your eyes can take the pressure off of your inner ears and eyes to focus and might make you fall asleep, making the time pass quicker
  • Fresh air – This is simple to do in a car or ship, but opening the windows or heading to the deck for some fresh air can relieve any feelings of nausea
  • Keep calm – Worrying and stress can also be a trigger of motion sickness making it a vicious cycle. Focusing and steadying your breathing can help to distract you from the condition
  • Keep still – Using a pillow or headrest to keep your head steady can help to prevent motion sickness.
  • Find some stability – Placing your hands on a solid surface such as a table, wall or window can help you regain some sort of balance, alleviating the symptoms slightly
  • Give yourself the right meal – Travel sickness may always make you vomit, regardless of whether you've eaten and vomiting bile can be distressing. Stick to a simple meal before you travel that will line your stomach, avoiding any heavy fatty or spicy foods and try not to overeat

How to prevent sea sickness: infographic

Click on the below infographic to discover ways to prevent sea sickness.

See Off Sea Sickness

What options do we have to treat motion sickness?

We offer three motion sickness tablets; two in the form of hyoscine and one antihistamine. All three have been proven effective at alleviating the symptoms of motion sickness, and they can be taken with self-help and home remedies that you' have found work for you.

Kwells is a hyoscine tablet that can be taken every 6 hours if needed whilst Scopoderm is a patch that is applied near the ear up to 5 hours before travelling. Our third option is the antihistamine Avomine that contains the active ingredient Promethazine teoclate and is in a tablet form. Taken 24 hours before your trip, many have found antihistamines to be suitable, however most head for hyoscine options that are specifically designed to combat motion sickness.