Motion sickness

Last reviewed: 21 Apr 2022
Last updated: 20 Aug 2021

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • presence of risk factors
  • epigastric discomfort
  • nausea
  • headache
  • vomiting
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • cold sweating
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • yawning and sleepiness
  • pallor
  • recent alcohol consumption
  • unsteadiness and incoordination
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • childhood age
  • female sex
  • Chinese ancestry
  • family history of motion sickness
  • history of migraine
  • vestibulopathy
  • visual disorder
  • alcohol use
  • smoking
  • spatial disorientation and space-motion discomfort syndromes
  • hormonal factors
  • unpleasant odours/sight or smell of vomit
  • conflicting sensory inputs (e.g., reading in car, tilting trains)
  • psychological factors
  • spatially loaded concurrent tasks
  • neurological disorder
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • clinical diagnosis
More 1st investigations to order

Treatment algorithm

ACUTE

anticipated motion sickness

unanticipated motion sickness

ONGOING

known susceptibility

Contributors

Authors

Kenneth L. Koch, MD
Kenneth L. Koch

Professor (Section Head Gastroenterology)

Wake Forest University

Health Sciences Center

Winston-Salem

NC

Disclosures

KLK is an author of several references cited in this topic.

Acknowledgements

Dr Kenneth L. Koch would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Michael Andrew Gresty, a previous contributor to this topic.

Disclosures

MAG is an author of several references cited in this topic.

Peer reviewers

Alan J. Benson, MB, ChB

Visiting Consultant to the Royal Air Force Centre for Aviation Medicine

Royal Air Force Henlow

UK

Disclosures

AJB declares that he has no competing interests.

David Andrew Green, PhD

Lecturer in Human Cardiorespiratory and Aerospace Physiology

Division of Applied Biomedical Research

Department of Physiology

King's College London

London

UK

Disclosures

DAG declares that he has no competing interests.

Michael von Brevern, MD, PhD

Department of Neurology

Park-Klinik Weissensee

Berlin

Germany

Disclosures

MVB declares that he has no competing interests.

Richard Lewis, MD

Associate Professor

Otolaryngology and Neurology

Harvard Medical School

Boston

MA

Disclosures

RL declares that he has no competing interests.

  • Differentials

    • Migraine attack
    • Food poisoning
    • Acute vestibular disorder
    More Differentials
  • Guidelines

    • CDC health information for international travel (Yellow Book). Motion sickness
    • Air travel and children's health issues
    More Guidelines
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