1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Motion Sickness



Updated August 17, 2006

Although we usually think of motion sickness as something that happens when riding on a boat or getting seasick, children can get motion sickness in a car, bus, airplane, rollercoaster, etc. or even riding on a horse.

Symptoms of Motion Sickness

The symptoms of motion sickness usually include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, sweating, and becoming pale.

Long Car Rides, Cruises, etc.

Parents commonly call their Pediatrician before a family vacation, especially if involves a cruise or long car ride, looking for medications to help control motion sickness. Mostly they are looking for a prescription for the scopolamine patches that adults commonly used, but unfortunately, these are not recommended for use in children.

Instead, children over age 2 years can usually take Dramamine, an over-the-counter antihistamine that can help to prevent the symptoms of motion sickness. Available as a chewable tablet, Dramamine is convenient for even younger children who can't yet swallow pills, but do avoid other antihistamines, which includes most allergy medicines. It is also important to watch for the most common side effect of Dramamine, which is drowsiness.

Benadryl is another antihistamine that may help with motion sickness.

Short Car Rides

An even more common problem seems to be motion sickness that affects young children who take even short car rides, like to the store or across town.

In this case, you may have to try different things, but it may help to:

  • avoid letting your child read, watch movies, or play video games in the car
  • have her listen to music or audio books, etc.
  • avoid big meals right before traveling
  • encourage her to look at things outside the car, in the distance
If motion sickness continues to be a routine problem for your child, an evaluation by a Pediatric Neurologist might be helpful.

Motion Sickness and Migraines

Many experts believe that motion sickness and migraine headaches may be linked, so if migraines run in the family, even if your child hasn't started getting them yet, she may be at risk for motion sickness. Or if your child already has migraines, then it would be more likely that she would also suffer from motion sickness.

1Both migraine and motion sickness may be due to low brain levels of serotonin. Brey RL - Neurology - 23-AUG-2005; 65(4): E9-10
2Balance disorders in children. Casselbrant ML - Neurol Clin - 01-AUG-2005; 23(3): 807-29, vii
3Keystone: Travel Medicine, 1st ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, An Imprint of Elsevier

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.