Dealing with the Side Effects of
Motion Sickness Medication

Motion sickness medication is known to cause an array of side effects, which can differ greatly from person to person. You may be lucky and never experience any side effects at all, but 'forewarned is forearmed', and if you know what to expect you'll be better prepared to deal with it.

Side effects from motion sickness medications can occasionally be very serious, so it's important to recognize when to discontinue use of your medication and get help.

A figure frequently mentioned in the medical literature is that more than 50% of people taking motion sickness medication will experience at least one of the following:

  • Drowsiness (sometimes extreme)
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth and unusual thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation

These are all temporary effects and under normal circumstances you shouldn't be unduly worried. Some people, however, just can't tolerate how they feel while on motion sickness medication, and in that case - and particularly if you are actually feeling unwell - it is always better to discontinue the medication and then, if at all possible, seek medical advice. Note that all these side effects can be triggered and/or made worse by alcohol, and in some cases caffeine, so it is wise to avoid both.

Drowsiness is obviously best dealt with by resting or - if you are on a cruise - retiring to bed. However, if you're on a once in a lifetime trip, an overwhelming need to sleep can be extremely inconvenient. You may find that the drowsiness is particularly pronounced shortly after taking the medication, in which case you could try taking it just before going to bed.

Dizziness can be distressing, but many people have told me that they happily choose it over full-on motion sickness. Be especially careful when getting out of bed, sitting down and standing up, on stairs and near any machinery.

A dry or slightly numb mouth is just a mild annoyance for most people, but do keep well hydrated, taking frequent sips of water (not caffeinated drinks or alcohol!). Sucking on ice may bring some relief, as may chewing gum or sucking hard candy.

Blurred vision - caused by your pupils dilating - can be distressing, particularly if you're on a lengthy trip and love to read! The blurring tends to be particularly pronounced with close vision, and some people find it really hard to tolerate. Others, however, accept it as the price to pay for avoiding full-blown motion sickness. As noted above, if you're using the Transderm-Scop patch, make sure to wash your hands very thoroughly after applying or removing the patch. Touching your eyes with residue from the patch still on your fingers is a sure route to seriously blurred vision.

Constipation is never pleasant, but there are numerous effective treatments available, both medicated and herbal. Do check that any medicated remedies you use are compatible and safe to use with your motion sickness medication. It is also important to stay well hydrated and eat high fiber foods.


Allergic reaction and other serious side effects

On rare occasions, motion sickness medication side effects can be very serious, and even life threatening. Get medical help immediately if you suspect that you are having an allergic reaction to your motion sickness medication. Typical signs include red itchy rashes, respiratory problems and difficult or painful breathing, and swelling on your face, throat, mouth or lips.

Some motion sickness medications can also severely impair your judgment and cause confusion, disorientation and even hallucinations. This appears to be more common in more elderly people, and should be taken seriously. Discontinue the medication and get medical advice as quickly as possible.

Serious side effects and adverse reactions to medication should always be reported:


Area Authority to Contact
USA FDA MedWatch
Canada MedEffect Canada
UK MHRA
Ireland Health Products Regulatory Authority
Australia TGA
New Zealand CARM




Comments

dina tarabocchia on August 10, 2016:
I am on bystolic and a diuretic med. for high blood pressure. Will any of thise meds. for nausea affect me? Going on a cruise after 15 years and I am prone to motion sickness. Dina
Amy on October 1, 2016:
I am in the process of applying for disability. I have to take phenaghan because my seizure pills make me very sick. I am not working at the present. The time and cannot afford my meds stay sick all the time. Could you tell me the company that makes this medication? I really need all the help I can get. Thanks In advance.
Pat Rigor on January 24, 2017:
After a stroke, I became dizzy all the time. Dr. put me on motion sickness pills, now the pills are doing the same - making me dizzy.
Jillian on May 1, 2017:
Makes my mouth feel real dry, and I still get motion sickness after taking tablets.

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