Motion sickness

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Motion sickness develops if the brain takes in contradictory signals from the moving body parts such as the eyes, inner ears and nerves in the extremities. Normally, all these areas respond to any movement.

Once the signals that they receive and send out are inconsistent, the brain receives conflicting signals and initiates a response that makes one sick.

What are the indications?

Motion sickness typically starts with a vague sensation of stomach upset, fatigue, cold sweat and appetite loss. This typically progresses to vomiting. The child might not be able to describe the queasiness but show it by becoming restless and pale, crying and yawning.

After some time, the child has diminished appetite and even vomits. This can be influenced by earlier outings that made him/her sick but typically improves over time.

Motion sickness
It is not precisely known why motion sickness occurs more frequently in some children than others.

Possible causes

It is not precisely known why motion sickness occurs more frequently in some children than others. Since most of these children later experience occasional headaches, it is believed that motion sickness might be an early form of migraine.

Motion sickness often occurs on a first plane or boat ride or when the motion is intense such as those caused by turbulent air or rough water. Excitement and stress can also start this issue or make it worse.

What can you do?

If a child start to develop symptoms of motion sickness, the ideal approach is to stop the activity responsible for the issue. In case it occurs in a car, stop as soon as it is safe and allow him/her to get out and walk around. If on a long car trip, take frequent short stops.

Aside from frequent stops, the following can be considered:

  • If the child has not eaten for 3 hours, provide a light snack before the trip. This relieves hunger pangs that seems to add up to the symptoms.
  • Focus the attention of the child away from the queasiness. Talk to the child or encourage to listen to the radio.
  • Encourage the child to look at things outside the car, not on games or books.


Before going to a trip and the child has motion sickness before, you can provide medication ahead of time to prevent issues. Some of these medications are available without prescription, but consult a doctor first.

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