Whether triggered by car, boat, plane, or train, motion sickness and nausea will make you miserable. And while health experts don’t know exactly what causes motion sickness, there are plenty of options for keeping it at bay.
Keep the following in mind as you shop for motion sickness products:
If nausea, extreme sensitivity to motion, dizziness, and unsteadiness are new to you, talk to your doctor. These things may signal a more serious health problem.
If you are managing a health condition, especially high blood pressure, or kidney, liver or heart disease, consider your medications when selecting an anti-nausea medicine. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about your best options.
Use motion sickness and anti-nausea medications according to package directions and pay attention to listed side effects. Some of these drugs cause extreme drowsiness, making everyday activities, such as driving, unsafe.
Do not use motion sickness medications and alcohol together. Alcohol increases the sedative effects of these drugs.
Some motion sickness and anti-nausea medications may cause confusion or aggravate symptoms in those with dementia and in adults older than 65 years.
Do not use these medications if you are pregnant or nursing.
Compare ingredients to avoid accidentally taking two medications together that contain the same active ingredients, and check with your doctor about which products are okay to take together and how best to avoid mixing drugs that should not be combined.
Over-the-Counter Oral Medications
What they are: There are several over-the-counter oral medications to prevent and treat nausea due to motion sickness. Most brand name and generic motion sickness products contain either meclozine or dimenhydrinate.
Why to buy: Meclozine or dimenhydrinate can be purchased without a prescription, they are relatively inexpensive, and they are effective at preventing motion sickness in most people.
Things to consider: Do not use these products without consulting your doctor if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or irregular heart beats, thyroid problems, diabetes, glaucoma, prostate enlargement, liver disease, or kidney disease. Motion sickness medications work best when taken before motion sickness occurs. Many people experience drowsiness after taking these medications, and for adults older than 65 years, motion sickness drugs can cause confusion and agitation. Other common side effects include dry mouth and constipation.
Prescription Motion Sickness Medications
What they are: Prescription motion sickness products are available as oral medications (pills and capsules), transdermal patches, and rectal suppositories. Transdermal products deliver a steady, continuous dose of medication through a patch placed on the skin. Promethazine and prochlorperazine are prescribed for oral use, while scopolamine and prochlorperazine can be used as rectal suppositories, and scopolamine is very effective when used as a patch.
Why to buy: Prescription motion sickness products are stronger than over-the-counter versions and they offer additional options for managing severe motion sickness. The scopolamine patch is particularly effective for most people and will give continuous protection against motion sickness for up to three days, or until the patch is removed from the skin. A patch may be the best option for long-term motion sickness control, such as during a boat trip or cruise.
Things to consider: Before using these medications, tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or irregular heart beats, thyroid problems, diabetes, glaucoma, prostate enlargement, liver disease, or kidney disease. As with over-the-counter motion sickness medications, prescription versions work best when taken before motion sickness occurs. These drugs can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, and for adults older than 65 years, confusion and agitation.
Other Options for Managing Motion Sickness
What they are: Other over-the-counter options for motion sickness include wristbands and herbal products, particularly ginger. Wristbands work by supplying continuous pressure on an acupressure point on the wrist, which is associated with nausea relief.
Why to buy: For people with mild motion sickness, wristbands and ginger capsules may provide relief, and they do so without the side effects associated with other motion sickness medicines. These products can be used in addition to over-the-counter and prescription motion sickness medications.
Things to consider: Wristbands and ginger herb capsules are safe for nearly all people, but check with your doctor first if you have concerns about how these products might affect other medications you use to manage an existing health condition.