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Travel Sickness Tablets & Treatments

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  • What are the best non-medicinal ways to treat Travel Sickness?

    If you begin to experience mild travel sickness, there are a number of techniques that you can try which do not involve medicine.

    Reading or looking at a screen will often make symptoms much worse. A common remedy is to close your eyes or otherwise, focus on a stationary point in the distance such as on the horizon. In a car, it might be helpful to sit in the front seat. Try to avoid sitting backwards on a train or boat.

    Try to find a seat or position in which you will move as little as possible. On a boat or plane, this will be towards the middle of the vessel. It is especially important to keep your head still, which you can do with pillows or head rests.

    It is important to remain calm. Try to find a technique that will help you to relax, such as concentrating on music or your breathing. You might also want to try mental activities which will distract you from your sickness, such as listing the alphabet backwards or making mental lists. 

    It may help your symptoms to get fresh air, either by opening windows or by moving outside or to drink water. This will help you to remain cool and hydrated.

    Be mindful of what you eat and drink before and during any journey. Foods which are spicy, heavy or rich in fat can make travel sickness worse. Consider staying away from alcohol before or during travel if you know you are susceptible to travel sickness.

  • How do medical treatments for Travel Sickness differ?

    If you know that you are susceptible to travel sickness, you might want to take medication. This is most effective if taken prior to the journey so that symptoms do not develop in the first place. There are two primary types of travel sickness medication: hyoscine and antihistamines.

    Hyoscine, or scopolamine, is available in a patch that can be purchased over the counter. Travel sickness occurs when the vestibular system in the inner ear senses imbalance or disequilibrium – hyoscine is thought to work by preventing those signals from affecting the brain.

    Hyoscine’s side effects include dizziness, blurred vision, and drowsiness. Because of the nature of these side effects, you should not take hyoscine if you intend on driving. Children and the elderly should use hyoscine only with caution. It can have an adverse effect on people with a history of heart, liver or kidney issues, as well as those with conditions including epilepsy.

    Antihistamines are most often used as a treatment for the symptoms of allergies. However, it can also prevent nausea, and so is sometimes effective as a remedy for travel sickness. Antihistamines tablets are taken one to two hours before a journey, or every eight hours during longer journeys. Unlike hyoscine, antihistamines will only help with the symptoms rather than the cause of nausea, and so it is a less effective treatment. However, apart from some drowsiness, there are usually fewer side effects.

  • Are acupressure bands and ginger effective treatments?

    These are two of several popular alternative remedies for travel sickness. The evidence that they are effective is inconclusive.

    Acupressure bands are worn around your wrists. It is suggested that they work by applying pressure to a specific point on the wrist, which prevents the symptoms of travel sickness. There is little medical evidence that this is effective, though acupressure bands have no harmful side effects.

    Ginger is widely used to treat nausea, including travel sickness. It is taken in the form of ginger drinks or biscuits, or as ginger supplements. Ensure with your GP that these supplements will not impact any of your other medication. Again, there is limited medical evidence of ginger as an effective travel sickness remedy.

  • What kinds of people are most likely to get Travel Sickness?

    Anyone can suffer from travel sickness, and indeed most people will experience it in some form. It is very common in young children, particularly those whose parents suffer from travel sickness. In many cases, however, children will grow out of it by the time they are teenagers.

    Other groups that are vulnerable include pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions or on certain types of medication. This is especially true if nausea is already a symptom of your condition or a side effect of your medication.

    The body will often adapt to the environment that is causing your symptoms, and so symptoms tend to improve over the course of a journey. For some people, however, the symptoms will continue until the journey is over.

  • If I often get car sick, am I likely to suffer from other kinds of Travel Sickness?

    Travel sickness is the body’s response to its current pattern of motion. Because this pattern is different for every mode transportation, certain journeys will likely make you iller than others. Experiences with travel sickness vary widely from person to person, and it is not possible to predict whether you will get sick on a particular journey. However, you can try to prevent or remedy travel sickness using the techniques mentioned above.

  • Will I feel sick every time I travel?

    You are most likely to suffer from travel sickness when your body is experiencing an unfamiliar type of motion. So, as you become accustomed to a particular form of transport, it will often become more bearable. However, in some cases, the vestibular system will never adapt to a certain form of motion.

    For some people, travel sickness occurs as the body’s default reaction to a certain form of motion. If this is the case, focus on relaxing and thinking positively.

  • Is Travel Sickness serious?

    Travel sickness can be frustrating and inconvenient, but it is not harmful to your health in the long term. In the vast majority of cases, symptoms go away once the journey is over.

    There are a few cases in which symptoms will continue even after the journey is over. This is called Mal de Debarquement Syndrome – it occurs when the body does not properly readjust to being motionless on land.

  • Can Travel Sickness be cured?

    Whilst travel sickness cannot be completely cured, its symptoms can be quite easily managed or prevented. Many people find non-medicinal remedies effective. These techniques are free of side effects, and so should be used before you consider taking additional medication.

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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