II. Definition

  1. Non-vertiginous Dizziness and associated Nausea or Vomiting typically provoked by motion on travel in a car, boat, or airplane

III. Pathophysiology

  1. Discordance between vestibular, visual and proprioceptive signals
  2. Vestibular/proprioceptive systems sense movement
  3. Visual system fails to sense movement

IV. Risk Factors

  1. Prior history of Motion Sickness (best predictor of future events)
  2. Female gender
  3. Children ages 2 to 15 years
  4. Conditions predisposing to Nausea (e.g. first trimester pregnancy, Migraine Headaches)

V. Symptoms

  1. Occur in reponse to specific stimuli (e.g. car or boat travel)
  2. Primary
    1. Nausea or Vomiting to Retching in severe cases
    2. Non-vertiginous Dizziness
  3. Associated
    1. Headache
    2. Malaise
    3. Cold diaphoresis
    4. Flushing
    5. Incapacitation may occur in severe cases

VI. Prevention

  1. Reduce overall exposures
    1. Avoid travel during difficult weather conditions (e.g. storms, large waves, air turbulence)
    2. Avoid travel with difficult terrain (up and down, tight turns, frequent acceleration and deceleration)
    3. Avoid travel where visibility is reduced (e.g. fog, clouds)
  2. Avoid provocative motions
    1. Avoid complex, multiple axis motions
    2. Prefer linear motion to rotary motion
    3. Prefer horizontal motion to vertical motion
    4. Prefer high frequency motion to low frequency motion
  3. Favor positions with least motion
    1. Plane
      1. Over wing
    2. Car
      1. Front seat (driver or passenger)
      2. Face forward
    3. Boat
      1. Level closest to water surface
      2. Face toward the waves and away from the rocking bow
    4. Bus
      1. Sit near front at the lowest level
      2. Face forward
    5. Train
      1. Sit at lowest level
      2. Face forward
  4. Desensitization
    1. Start traveling during calm conditions
    2. Gradually increase motion exposure
    3. Anticipate symptoms with increasing exposure
      1. Attempt to continue exposure despite symptoms
      2. Use measures listed here to reduce Motion Sickness symptoms
      3. At onset of Vertigo, attempt to reorient immediately
  5. Keep visual system in sync with motion
    1. Avoid near work (e.g. reading, photography) while traveling
    2. Face forward toward the motion or direction of travel
    3. Try to remain in vehicle spaces where the horizon is visible
      1. Focus on a distant horizon point
      2. If horizon is not visible, close eyes with head still (or consider sun glasses)
  6. Keep body in sync with motion
    1. Tilt head into a turn
    2. Steer the vehicle (or touch part of the wheel if possible)
    3. Stand with knees bent and move with the vehicle motion
    4. Stay active with the motion (e.g. swim in water, walk around vehicle)
      1. If unable, lie supine or at 30 degrees reclined (or brace head to prevent motion)
  7. Other measures
    1. Avoid Alcohol
    2. Stay hydrated
    3. Eat before travel and maintain nourishment during travel with light, low-fat, low-acid meals
    4. Attempt to sleep
    5. Stay in dry, comfortable, well-ventilated areas
    6. Avoid Nauseating stimuli (exhaust, smell of vomit)
    7. Keep thoughts positive
      1. Listen to music
      2. Avoid talk of Motion Sickness

VII. Management: Scopolamine (first-line)

  1. Precautions
    1. Not recommended in age under 10 years
    2. Anticholinergic effects are common (but less than Antihistamines listed below)
  2. Transdermal Scopolamine patch (Transderm-Scop) - preferred
    1. Apply behind one ear at least 4 hours before travel
    2. Replace patch every 72 hours
    3. One box contains 4 patches (but pharmacies may dispense individual patches)
    4. Effective for Motion Sickness prevention
      1. Gil (2012) Clin Neuropharmacol 35(1): 37-9 [PubMed]
      2. Spinks (2011) Cochrane Database Syst Rev (6): CD002851 [PubMed]
    5. A second patch has been safely added if the first does not offer adequate relief (off label use, and higher than recommended dose)
      1. Bar (2009) Pharmacotherapy 29(9): 1082-8 [PubMed]
  3. Oral scopolamine
    1. Scopolamine 0.4 to 0.6 mg starting one hour before travel and then every 8 hours as needed
    2. Not as effective as transdermal scopolamine

VIII. Management: Other medications

  1. Most effective
    1. Scopolamine (see above)
  2. Moderately effective
    1. Cinnarazine (OTC in Europe and Mexico, not available in U.S.)
      1. Dose: 30 mg at two hours prior to travel, then 15 mg every 8 hours as needed
    2. Promethazine
      1. Dose: 25 mg PO/PR at 30-60 minutes before travel, then every 12 hours as needed
  3. Minimally effective
    1. Cyclizine (Marezine)
    2. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
    3. Diphenhydramine
    4. Meclizine (Antivert)
  4. Ineffective
    1. Ondansetron (Zofran)
    2. Ginger root

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Ontology: Motion Sickness (C0026603)

Definition (MEDLINEPLUS)

Motion sickness is a common problem in people traveling by car, train, airplanes and especially boats. Motion sickness can start suddenly, with a queasy feeling and cold sweats. It can then lead to dizziness and nausea and vomiting.

Your brain senses movement by getting signals from your inner ears, eyes, muscles and joints. When it gets signals that do not match, you can get motion sickness. For example, down below on a boat, your inner ear senses motion, but your eyes cannot tell you are moving.

Where you sit can make a difference. The front seat of a car, forward cars of a train, upper deck on a boat or wing seats in a plane may give you a smoother ride. Looking out into the distance - instead of trying to read or look at something in the vehicle - can also help.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Definition (MSH) Disorder caused by motion, as sea sickness, train sickness, car sickness, air sickness, or SPACE MOTION SICKNESS. It may include nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D009041
ICD9 994.6
ICD10 T75.3
SnomedCT 157749008, 212974006, 269278001, 212973000, 37031009
English Motion Sickness, Sickness, Motion, Motion sickness NOS, Travel sickness, unspecified, MOTION SICKNESS, TRAVEL SICKNESS, travel sickness (diagnosis), nausea occurs with body motion while traveling, motion sickness (diagnosis), motion sickness, nausea occurs with body motion while traveling (symptom), travel sickness, Travel sickness NOS, Motion Sickness [Disease/Finding], Travel sickness (disorder), Travel sickness, unspecified (finding), Motion sickness NOS (finding), Motion sickness, Travel sickness, Riders' vertigo, disease (or disorder); travel sickness (any vehicle), nausea; roundabout, nausea; swing, roundabout; nausea, swing; nausea, Motion sickness, NOS, Travel Sickness, Motion sickness (disorder), Motion sickness NOS (disorder), Travel sickness, unspecified (disorder), Motion sickness (finding)
Spanish cinetosis (hallazgo), Enfermedad del viajero, Cinetosis NEOM, sintesosis, SAI (trastorno), cinetosis (trastorno), enfermedad del viajero, no especificada (trastorno), enfermedad del viajero, no especificada, sintesosis, SAI (hallazgo), enfermedad del viajero, no especificada (hallazgo), sintesosis, SAI, Cinetosis, Enfermedad del Movimiento, cinetosis, mareos del viajero, mareos por movimiento (trastorno), mareos por movimiento, Mareo por Movimiento
Italian Cinetosi, Cinetosi NAS, Cinestosi
Dutch reisziekte, reisziekte NAO, aandoening; reisziekte (elk voertuig), draaimolen; misselijkheid, misselijkheid; draaimolen, misselijkheid; schommel, schommel; misselijkheid, Ziekte door verplaatsing, bewegingsziekte, Bewegingsziekte, Ziekte, bewegings-
French Mal des transports SAI, MAL DES TRANSPORTS, Cinépathie, Mal des transports
German Reisekrankheit NNB, Reisekrankheit, REISEKRANKHEIT, Bewegungskrankheit, Kinetose
Portuguese Quinetose, Quinetose NE, ENJOO AO VIAJAR, ENJOO EMOCIONAL, Enjoo devido ao Movimento, Cinetose, Náusea devida a Viagem Aérea, Náusea devida a Viagem Marítima, Náusea devida a Viagem Terrestre, Náusea devida ao Movimento
Japanese 乗物酔いNOS, ノリモノヨイNOS, ノリモノヨイ, 乗り物酔い, 乗物酔, 航空病, 船酔い, 航空酔い, 乗物酔い, 自動車酔い, 動揺病, 車酔い
Swedish Åksjuka
Czech kinetózy, Cestovní kinetóza, Kinetóza, Kinetóza z cestování NOS, nemoc z pohybu, nevolnosti při cestování
Finnish Matkapahoinvointi
Russian MORSKAIA BOLEZN', TRANSPORTNAIA BOLEZN', UKACHIVANIE, VOZDUSHNAIA BOLEZN', DVIZHENIIA BOLEZN', ВОЗДУШНАЯ БОЛЕЗНЬ, ДВИЖЕНИЯ БОЛЕЗНЬ, МОРСКАЯ БОЛЕЗНЬ, ТРАНСПОРТНАЯ БОЛЕЗНЬ, УКАЧИВАНИЕ
Korean 동요병
Polish Choroba morska, Choroba powietrzna, Choroba lokomocyjna, Kinetoza, Choroba podróżujących, Choroba samochodowa
Hungarian Utazási betegség, tengeri betegség, Utazási betegség k.m.n.
Norwegian Kinetose, Bevegelsessyke, Reisesyke