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Best Motion Sickness Relief for Adults

Updated May 2023
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief Original Formula
Dramamine
Motion Sickness Relief Original Formula
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Bottom Line

For planes, cars, or boats, Dramamine works when taken preemptively or when sickness strikes.

Pros

Dimenhydrinate 50mg swallow tablets is a great remedy for severe motion sickness. The packaging makes it easy to bring these pills anywhere. Recommended by pharmacists.

Cons

Some customers did not find these tablets to be effective if not taken before travel.

Best Bang for the Buck
Hyland's Homeopathic Hyland's Motion Sickness Relief Tablets
Hyland's Homeopathic
Hyland's Motion Sickness Relief Tablets
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Bottom Line

All-natural ingredients make this inexpensive treatment a great option.

Pros

Made of plant, mineral, and animal natural ingredients. No side effects. Quick-dissolving tablets work well for motion sickness or nausea. With 50 tablets, this is a great inexpensive option.

Cons

These tablets are not effective for everyone.

Sea-Band Sea-Band Adult Wristband
Sea-Band
Sea-Band Adult Wristband
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Bottom Line

Many customers find Sea-Bands, a drug free option, to work well using wrist pressure.

Pros

This pair of cotton, non-latex bracelets are a good alternative to motion sickness medications. Bracelets use acupressure to relieve motion sickness and nausea. Drug-free with no side effects. Bracelets are easy to use. Comes with a plastic carrying case. Contains one pair of bracelets.

Cons

Sea-Bands do not work for everyone, and they may be too snug for some wrists.

MQ Motion Sickness Patch
MQ
Motion Sickness Patch
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Bottom Line

If you don't want to take a tablet, this natural treatment works well for many.

Pros

2 cm patches are placed behind the ear and are easy to remove. Unlike many motion sickness pills, these patches do not usually cause drowsiness. Easy to put on and remove. All-natural. Includes 20 patches.

Cons

Some customers did not find these patches effective.

Miers Laboratories Trip Ease Homeopathic Motion Sickness Remedy
Miers Laboratories
Trip Ease Homeopathic Motion Sickness Remedy
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Bottom Line

Natural ingredient treat jet lag as well as motion sickness.

Pros

For long flights, these pills are effective for fighting nausea and jet lag for many. If you need more than motion sickness treatment, these are a great option. Last for 30 hours. Safe for all ages. Contains 32 tablets.

Cons

Some customers did not find these tablets effective in preventing jet lag.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
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Buying guide for Best motion sickness relief for adults

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Expert tip
Take the medication only as directed. Do not take more as any medication has a level of toxicity.
BestReviews Medical Expert

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.

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.

Expert tip
Do not operate heavy machinery or drive if you take an antihistamine.
BestReviews Medical Expert

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.
Content Image
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.

Expert tip
Store medications away from children as some can look like candy.
BestReviews Medical Expert

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 and ginger is mixed, but a great many people do feel better after trying them.

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