Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Is this your child's symptom?
- Symptoms triggered by a spinning, rocking or rolling motions
- The main symptoms are dizziness and nausea
Symptoms of Motion Sickness
- Dizziness and unsteady walking
- Nausea and vomiting are also common
- Before age 6, the main symptom is dizziness and the need to lie down.
- After age 12, the main symptom is nausea (feeling sick to the stomach).
Causes of Motion Sickness
- Symptoms are mainly triggered by motion. Sea sickness or amusement park sickness are the most common types. Fun-park rides that spin or whirl are some of the main causes. The Tilt-a-whirl is a good example of a ride to avoid. Also seen during travel by train, aircraft and even car.
- The cause is a sensitive center in the inner ear. This center helps to maintain balance.
- As a car passenger driving on winding roads, 25% of people will have symptoms. Under extreme conditions (e.g., high seas) over 90% of people have symptoms.
- Strongly genetic: If one parent has it, 50% of the children will have it.
- It is not related to emotional problems. The child cannot control it with will power.
- Motion sickness symptoms are often worse in children.
When to Call for Motion Sickness
Call Doctor Now or Go to ER
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Call Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Motion sickness symptoms last more than 8 hours
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Call Doctor During Office Hours
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.
Care Advice for Motion Sickness
- What You Should Know About Motion Sickness:
- Motion sickness is a common normal reaction that occurs in 25% of people.
- Caused by increased sensitivity of the inner ear.
- It is not related to emotional problems or any physical disease.
- In the future, take a special medicine ahead of time to prevent it.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- Rest - Lie Down:
- Have your child lie down and rest. If your child goes to sleep, all the better.
- Fluids - Offer Sips:
- Give only sips of clear fluids. Water is best. Do this until the stomach settles down.
- Prepare for vomiting. Keep a vomiting pan handy.
- Usually, children don't vomit more than once with motion sickness.
- What to Expect:
- All symptoms of motion sickness usually go away in 4 hours after stopping the motion.
- As for the future, people usually don't outgrow motion sickness. Sometimes, it becomes less severe in adults.
- Motion Sickness Medicine - Prevention:
- Buy some dimenhydrinate tablets (such as Dramamine) at your drug store. No prescription is needed. In the future, give it to prevent motion sickness.
- They come in 50 mg chewable tablets or 15 mg-per-teaspoon liquid.
- Age 2 to 6 years old: 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
- Age 6 to 12 years old: 1 tablet
- Age 12 years and older: 2 tablets
- Give the medicine 1 hour before traveling or going to a fun-park.
- The tablets give 6 hours of protection and are very helpful.
- Benadryl can also be used to prevent motion sickness. Use this if you do not have any Dramamine.
- Prevention Tips for Car Trips:
- If your child is over 12 years old, sit him in the front seat.
- Before age 12, have your child sit in the middle back seat. This should help him look out the front window.
- Have your child look out the front window, not the side one.
- Discourage looking at books or movies during car travel.
- Keep a window cracked to provide fresh air.
- Avoid exhaust fumes from other vehicles.
- Meals: Have your child eat light meals before trips. Some children can just tolerate crackers and water.
- Plastic Bags: Always carry a ziplock plastic bag for vomiting emergencies.
- Wrist Bands - Prevention:
- Acupressure bands (such as Sea-Bands) are helpful for some adults.
- There is no reason they shouldn't work for some children.
- Put them on before car trips or other causes of motion sickness.
- The pressure button goes over the center of the wrist. Place ½ inch (1 cm) above the wrist crease.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Any symptoms last over 8 hours
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Last Reviewed: 03/19/2018
Last Revised: 05/07/2017
Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.