Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Motion Sickness

Definition

  • Symptoms triggered by a spinning, rocking or rolling motions
  • The main symptoms are dizziness and nausea

Call or Return If

  • Any symptoms last over 8 hours
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Dizziness and unsteady walking
  • Nausea and vomiting are also common
  • Before age 6, the main symptom is dizziness and the need to lie down.
  • After age 12, the main symptom is nausea (feeling sick to the stomach)

Causes

  • Symptoms are mainly triggered by motion. Sea sickness or amusement park sickness are the most common types. Amusement park rides that spin or whirl are the big offenders. The Tilt-a-whirl is a good example of a ride to avoid. Also seen during travel by train, aircraft and even car.
  • The cause is a sensitive equilibrium center. This center is found in the inner ear.
  • As a car passenger driving on winding roads, 25% of people develop symptoms. Under extreme conditions (e.g., high seas) over 90% of people have symptoms.
  • Strongly genetic: If one parent has it, 50% of the children will have it.
  • It is not related to emotional problems. The child cannot control it with will power.
  • Motion sickness symptoms are usually worse in children.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Motion sickness is a common normal reaction that occurs in 25% of people.
  • Caused by increased sensitivity of the inner ear.
  • It is not related to emotional problems or any physical disease.
  • In the future, take a special medicine ahead of time to prevent it.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Rest:
  • Have your child lie down and rest. If your child goes to sleep, all the better.
Fluids:
  • Give only sips of clear fluids (water is best). Do this until the stomach settles down.
Vomiting:
  • Prepare for vomiting. Keep a vomiting pan handy.
  • Usually, children don't vomit more than once with motion sickness.
What to Expect:
  • All symptoms of motion sickness usually disappear in 4 hours after stopping the motion.
  • As for the future, people usually don't outgrow motion sickness. Sometimes, it becomes less severe in adults.
Motion Sickness Medicines:
  • Buy some Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) (OTC) at your drug store. In the future, give Dramamine to prevent motion sickness.
  • It comes in 50 mg regular and chewable tablets or in 25 mg Kids chewable.
  • Dosage: do not use under age 2.
  • 2 to 5 years (12.5 mg): 1/2 Kids chewable
  • 6-11 years (25 mg): 1 Kids chewable
  • 12 and older (50 mg): 1 regular tablet or chewable
  • Give the Dramamine 1 hour before traveling or going to an amusement park.
  • The tablets give 6 hours of protection and are very helpful.
  • Bonine is another special OTC medicine that helps.
  • Benadryl can also be used to prevent motion sickness. Use this if you do not have any Dramamine or Bonine.
Prevention Tips for Car Trips:
  • If your child is over 12 years old, sit him in the front seat.
  • Before age 12, have your child sit in the middle back seat. This should help him look out the front window.
  • Have your child look out the front window, not the side one.
  • Discourage looking at books or DVDs during car travel.
  • Keep a window cracked to provide fresh air.
  • Avoid exhaust fumes from other vehicles.
  • Meals: Have your child eat light meals before trips. Some children can just tolerate crackers and water.
  • Plastic Bags: Always carry a ziplock plastic bag for vomiting emergencies.
Wrist Bands - Prevention:
  • Acupressure bands (e.g., SeaBands) are helpful for some adults.
  • There is no reason they shouldn't work for some children.
  • Put them on before car trips or other causes of motion sickness.
  • The pressure button goes over the center of the wrist. Place ½ inch (1 cm) above the wrist crease.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Article 2703