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Motion Sickness: What Can You Do About It?

If you’re one of those unlucky souls who is easily nauseated by riding in planes, trains, and automobiles – and forget about boats, they’ll keep you hanging over the rail for hours – then welcome to the motion sickness club.  You’ve probably already read about your treatment options, but you may not find any of them completely satisfying.

Motion sickness (like car sickness, sea sickness, etc.) is caused by an uncoupling of input from the eyes, ears, and joint position-sensing nerves throughout your body.  In other words, your brain becomes confused by conflicting messages about where your body is in space.  If you’re sitting in a chair, your brain expects it to be fixed and not to move – but then if that chair is in a car or on a boat, the movement doesn’t make sense to it, and you become dizzy and nauseated.  The details of the science behind motion sickness is quite complex – and there are many different approaches to treating and preventing it.

In terms of medications – antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Dramamine, Antivert (meclizine), and Phenergan and anticholinergics like Scopolamine may be the most commonly used.  They have varying sedative side effects which can be very inconvenient for those who need to be alert and active immediately after they get out of the car, train, boat, etc.

Some people have used Zofran (ondansetron) for motion sickness prevention – and although this drug is only approved for the treatment of nausea side effects caused by cancer chemo and radiation therapy, it has a unique mechanism of action for preventing nausea.  It works by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain (and perhaps in the gut) to head off motion sickness.   It does not produce drowsiness as a side effect, and is generally well tolerated.  Unfortunately, it is very expensive (about $50 per pill – without insurance).

Personally, I try to stay away from medications as much as I can (they always have the potential for unwanted side effects) – but if you’re really struggling with motion sickness and have exhausted all your options, you might want to ask your doctor about Zofran.  I must admit that for me (someone who gets ill just looking at amusement park rides), a little bit of Zofran has radically improved my traveling difficulties.  In fact, I’m writing this blog post from a seaside vacation spot in sunny California… and I have no worries about the flight home, choppy air or not.  Bring on the deep sea fishing, parasailing, and jet skiing – I have no fear, Zofran is here!This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.


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2 Responses to “Motion Sickness: What Can You Do About It?”

  1. Joe G says:

    Personally, I try to stay away from medications as much as I can (they always have the potential for unwanted side effects)

    Ginger’s efficacy against nausea is worth looking into. I haven’t used it for travel-induced vertigo, but I have found it suprisingly effective against nausea in general.

  2. Joe G says:

    Personally, I try to stay away from medications as much as I can (they always have the potential for unwanted side effects)

    Ginger’s efficacy against nausea is worth looking into. I haven’t used it for travel-induced vertigo, but I have found it suprisingly effective against nausea in general.

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