Motion Sickness: What Is It and How Can I Treat It When Flying?

Motion sickness is the result of a conflict between your body’s various senses with regard to motion.  When signals received by the eyes do not match those being transmitted by the inner ear, motion sickness occurs.  Motion sickness symptoms will most likely include sweating, nausea, vomiting, and pallor. 

Motion sickness is a common condition.  Who is most likely to suffer from motion sickness? Children between the ages of 2-12 are highly susceptible, while infants and toddlers seem relatively immune.   Women who are pregnant, or on hormones, are also more likely to have motion sickness when flying.  Most individuals, given enough stimuli, will experience or develop motion sickness.

For most people, preventative measures when traveling can help avoid motion sickness, and treatment may vary based on your situation. 

  • Avoid eating heavy or spicy meals prior to travel
  • Avoid reading if possible
  • Request a seat over the aircraft wing
  • Get plenty of rest

If preventative measures do not suffice, you can also try medication.  Antihistamines (such as Dramamine™) can be useful in preventing motion sickness as they calm stimulation to the inner ear.  Check with your doctor, if necessary, to see which antihistamine – available in both over-the-counter and prescription form – is right for you based on your symptoms.

When antihistamines prove ineffective, your doctor may choose to prescribe tranquilizers to help control motion sickness.  Because tranquilizers calm all of the body’s sense’s, they are available by prescription only and are usually reserved for those with recurrent motion sickness.


US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
UStiA is a national association of insurance carriers, third-party administrators, insurance agencies and related businesses involved in the development, administration and marketing of travel insurance and travel assistance products.