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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best motion sickness relief for adults

    Last Updated August 2018

    Whether it’s caused by choppy waters on a boat ride or cruise, the winding back and forth of a drive on a mountain road, or a rough trip on an airplane or train, few people are completely unfamiliar with the misery of motion sickness. Dizziness, nausea, sweating, and sometimes vomiting are the hallmarks of this unpleasant malady, which although normally self-limiting, can be bad enough to spoil an outing or vacation.

    While there are prescription medications that help relieve motion sickness, for most people over-the-counter remedies are enough to handle mild to moderate cases. However, with so many different OTC treatments for motion sickness relief available, how do you choose the right one for you?

    At BestReviews, our mission is to make your purchasing decisions easier with our product recommendations and shopping guides. Simply keep reading for everything you need to know about understanding and choosing between the various types of motion sickness relief for adults.

    Just about everyone experiences motion sickness at one time or another, but there’s no reason to let this common affliction spoil your vacation.

    Who gets motion sickness?

    Motion sickness – it’s also called travel sickness or seasickness, although the medical term for it is kinetosis – is a bit of an enigma. While children are more susceptible than adults, a sizable percentage of adults become motion sick under certain circumstances, and women are likelier to be affected than men.

    Not all adults are equally susceptible, however. Up to 15% of adults don’t become motion sick even on rocky seas or spinning amusement park rides. While roughly 10% of adults are very susceptible to motion sickness, becoming queasy even on a gently rocking boat or mildly winding roadway. The other 75% of adults are somewhere in the middle; they experience symptoms of motion sickness when conditions are particularly conducive, but they are okay in milder situations.

    The gold standard of OTC motion sickness relief

    Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief Original Formula contains dimenhydrinate, a very effective nausea reducer. It kicks in quickly to relieve your motion sickness symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Pharmacists recommend this brand more than any other, and this antihistamine has been helping travelers feel their best for decades.

    What’s the cause of motion sickness?

    It’s generally accepted that motion sickness happens when your brain receives conflicting messages from your eyes, inner ear, and muscles. In a situation where movements are irregular, such as on a tossing boat, airplane in turbulence, roller coaster, or in a car winding around sharp turns, your eyes tell your brain that you are moving rapidly, but your muscles send messages that you are sitting still. Meanwhile, your inner ear, which contains delicate structures that help maintain balance, feels the rapid and irregular movements. All of this contradictory sensory information “overloads” your brain, causing your body to release stress hormones that lead to the familiar dizzy, nauseated, and generally sick feeling known as motion sickness.

    One particularly common cause of motion sickness is reading or otherwise looking down in a moving car, train, boat, or plane. Fixing your eyes on a steady page tells your brain that you aren’t moving, yet your inner ear and muscles detect irregular motion, triggering the confusion in your brain that leads to motion sickness. The cure here is generally simple – if you are prone to this form of motion sickness, keep your gaze on the passing scenery outside the window instead of reading or looking at a fixed image.

    Some susceptible people become motion sick playing video games or watching films that give the sensation of being in a form of transportation. In these cases, even though the muscles and inner ear don’t detect any movement, the eyes are signaling the brain that it’s on a wild ride, thus leading to sensory confusion and motion sickness.

    EXPERT TIP

    If taking antihistamines for motion sickness, remember to take the drug half an hour before your journey begins.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you know you are susceptible to motion sickness, avoid reading while traveling. Looking down instead of out the window brings on nausea for many people.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Anxiety increases the likeliness you’ll get motion sick, so try to keep a positive attitude and avoid worrying about motion sickness.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    What can you do about motion sickness?

    There are many methods for warding off or relieving motion sickness, although none of them work for all sufferers. While you’ll get some relief taking or using your motion sickness relief treatment once the discomfort starts, it’s most effective to start treatment before the nausea kicks in. If you know you’ll be in a situation likely to cause the problem – you’re going on a boat or an airplane, for example – take your motion sickness relief in advance.

    Prescription motion sickness relief for adults

    Prescription motion sickness transdermal patches or tablets – scopolamine is the most common drug – can be quite effective for many people, but you’ll need to visit your doctor to obtain this type of motion sickness relief. Scopolamine reduces the urge to vomit, but it should not be taken by those with glaucoma, urinary tract disease, digestive system disorders, or asthma.

    Over-the-counter motion sickness relief for adults

    Over-the-counter antihistamines reduce or eliminate motion sickness discomfort in many people, and there’s no need for a doctor’s appointment to obtain them. Some of the most common antihistamines with motion sickness relieving properties are dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, and meclizine. All three can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, and blurred vision, but for most people the side effects are minimal.

    If you know you are susceptible to motion sickness, it’s best to take an OTC antihistamine 30 minutes before getting into the car, boat, or plane. On a long trip, you’ll usually need to take another dose after four to six hours. Waiting until you feel sick before taking the antihistamine greatly reduces the effectiveness of the treatment.

    Acupressure bands

    Acupressure bands place pressure on a spot roughly three fingers below the crease of your wrist. According to Chinese medicine, pressure on this spot – called Nei Guan or P6 – relieves nausea, headaches, and the general unwell feeling of motion sickness. While studies have shown mixed results, the bands do help many people.

    Most acupressure motion sickness bands have a small magnet or bead that’s positioned directly over the P6 spot for additional pressure. Since there are no side effects, it’s worth giving acupressure bands a try if you have an upcoming trip and you’re prone to motion sickness.

    Homeopathic motion sickness relief for adults

    Homeopathic products work on the premise that very tiny doses of a substance known to cause symptoms can actually help relieve those symptoms. While there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence backing up homeopathy, many people do feel better after taking these products. There are several homeopathic formulas for motion sickness, generally containing nux vomica, an extract derived from nuts of the nux vomica tree.

    Ginger

    Ginger isn’t just for gingerbread. This fragrant root also works well to relieve nausea and stomach upset. You can take ginger capsules, sip ginger ale, or chew on ginger candies – but make sure that you’re consuming real ginger, not an artificial flavor. Unlike antihistamines or prescription medications, you’ll want to start nibbling or drinking your ginger as soon as symptoms strike, not before.

    Pyridoxine

    Pyridoxine, which is vitamin B6, is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness, and it may also be effective for motion sickness, although there isn’t much research on this use of the vitamin. You’ll need to take B6 regularly for results, however, so this might be a good option if you travel frequently.

    A homeopathic treatment with all-natural ingredients

    Many people swear by these little pills to relieve the distressing symptoms of motion sickness. Hyland’s Homeopathic Motion Sickness Relief Tablets contain nux vomica and other ingredients that relieve nausea, vomiting, and stomach distress. They dissolve under your tongue, so they are very quick and easy to take, even without water.

    Tips

    While motion sickness relief treatments help many people, the best treatment of all is heading off motion sickness before it even begins. The following tips will help you enjoy your travels while feeling comfortable.

    • Face the same direction you’re traveling. Avoid sitting in a backward-facing seat on trains or boats.

    • Look out the window. Focusing on a book, tablet, phone, or other non-moving object inside the car or boat brings on nausea for many people. Instead, watch the scenery passing by, or gaze toward the horizon.

    • Change positions. Some people feel less sick lying down, while others improve standing up. Whenever possible, try a change of position, and see if that helps.

    • Take the wheel. Motion sickness is much more common in passengers than drivers, so if you are prone to this malady, take the wheel if possible.

    • Get some air. Fresh air helps ward off nausea, so open the car window or head onto the deck of the boat.

    • Distract yourself. Keeping up a conversation, listening to music, enjoying the scenery, or simply thinking about something else are all helpful ways to keep yourself from worrying about the possibility of getting sick.

    • Choose your seat wisely. If you tend to get motion sick, it may help if you sit in the steadiest spot of your mode of transportation. That means over the wings on an airplane, the lower level of a train, and lower decks on a cruise ship. If you’re on a smaller boat, stay away from the boat’s rear, which might be steadier than the front but also tends to smell strongly of diesel, an aroma likely to make you feel worse.

    • Eat lightly. Before heading on your trip, avoid heavy, greasy, or spicy foods, and don’t drink alcohol to excess. While traveling, keep hydrated with water or carbonated beverages.
    People who suffer from migraine headaches are also likelier to become motion sick while traveling.

    FAQ

    Q. Are antihistamines safe for everyone? Do they have side effects?

    A. While most healthy adults can take OTC antihistamines without any problems, those with high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, glaucoma, urinary tract disease, an enlarged prostate, or kidney disease should check with a doctor before popping a pill. Common side effects of antihistamines include: drowsiness and sedation; dry mouth, eyes, and throat; dizziness; difficulty urinating; blurry vision; and irritability.

    Q. How much should I spend on a motion sickness relief treatment?

    A. There’s no reason to shortchange your vacation budget just to buy motion sickness relief. Acupressure bands generally cost $8 to $15, while a box of OTC antihistamines generally costs less than $12.

    Q. Do motion sickness relief treatments really work?

    A. Unfortunately, there is no surefire treatment for motion sickness that works for everyone. Some sufferers find little relief from the products covered here, but the majority of adults do feel better after using them. Antihistamines definitely provide relief for many people and have numerous studies to back that up. The evidence on acupressure bands, homeopathy, and ginger is mixed, but a great many people do feel better after trying them.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jacob
      Jacob
      Editorial Manager
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer