Should Your Child See a Doctor?

Motion Sickness

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

  • Motion sickness symptoms

Estimated Urgent Care Wait Times

These are estimated wait times for each Urgent Care clinic. Wait times are typically longest during the first hour we are open and may not be reflected immediately in the online wait time. Traffic and wait times may be affected by local events or bridge closures. Please check current traffic conditions and advisory alerts on the Seattle Department of Transportation website

Wait times may also vary depending on the severity of the illnesses we are treating. If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.

Care Advice for Motion Sickness

  1. 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.
  2. Rest - Lie Down:
    • Have your child lie down and rest. If your child goes to sleep, all the better.
  3. Fluids - Offer Sips:
    • Give only sips of clear fluids. Water is best. Do this until the stomach settles down.
  4. Vomiting:
    • Prepare for vomiting. Keep a vomiting pan handy.
    • Usually, children don't vomit more than once with motion sickness.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
    • Dosage:
    • 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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: 10/20/2014

Last Revised: 10/20/2014

Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.