What is car sickness?

On the Road 2 min read

Car sickness is a type of motion sickness, and it’s prevalent. One in three people gets it at some point in their lives, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s more common in children ages 2-12. Some people feel it regularly, but others only feel it in certain circumstances. Luckily, there are ways to prevent car sickness or reduce its effect, with and without medicine.

What are the symptoms of car sickness?

When there’s a conflict between what two of your senses tell you, you can experience motion sickness. Car sickness is more common for children but not for infants and toddlers. People over the age of 50 are generally less affected by it. Women may experience motion sickness more frequently than men, particularly when pregnant, menstruating, or taking prescribed hormones. Scientists still don’t know precisely how the brain triggers car sickness in the body.

Symptoms of car sickness may include:

  • Cold sweat, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Headache and hyperventilation
  • Nausea and vomiting

How to prevent car sickness

Preventing car sickness with medication

The two medications most commonly used to prevent car sickness and motion sickness in the car are scopolamine (prescription) and dimenhydrinate (over-the-counter). You should always consult with your doctor or medical provider before taking these or any other medications for car sickness.

Preventing car sickness without medication

Many non-medication remedies can help prevent car sickness. Being the driver of the car is the best solution. But if you’re a passenger, you can do any or all of the following to prevent car sickness.

  • Eat light, bland meals and drink water before car travel
  • Sit in the front passenger seat
  • Keep your eyes on the road, paying attention as if you were driving
  • Get fresh air, whether from the air vents or an open window
  • Consume lavender, peppermint lozenges, or hard candy
  • Avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Recline your seat and close your eyes or take a nap

Other considerations for preventing car sickness

The simplest way to get over car sickness is to get out of the car for a bit. Find somewhere safe to stop or pull over. Get out of the car for a while to walk around and get some fresh air. It may take a minute for the car sickness symptoms to stop. But once they do, try to use the prevention steps above to keep car sickness from happening to you again. Learn more about how to prepare your family for a road trip.

Was this article helpful?

3 min
2 min
2 min
3 min
3 min