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Coping with motion sickness

Q. We are planning to take a family cruise later this month. I have a tendency to get motion sick. I am worried that our children may also have motion sickness on the ship. My doctor has prescribed a scopolamine patch for me, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe for children. What can we do to treat and/or prevent motion sickness on our cruise?

Motion sickness is caused by input to the central nervous system associated with real or perceived motion. For example, riding on a long car ride, feeling the rocking motion of a boat or even watching certain types of motion on a screen can provoke motion sickness. Some people are more prone to motion sickness than others.

It is difficult to know whether your child will experience motion sickness or not, but there are some predictors: a history of motion sickness, a family history of motion sickness and a history of migraine headaches. Also, motion sickness happens more on smaller boats than larger cruise ships.

Some simple tips for preventing motion sickness include:

  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Spend the extra money to reserve a room on the lanai of the ship
  • Avoid watching the water
  • Focus on dry land
  • Stay cool, well rested and well hydrated

While on the cruise, monitor your child for symptoms of sea sickness, such as pallor, clamminess, nausea, headache and vomiting. If you notice early signs, have your child get fresh air, cool off and drink sips of fluids.

Antihistamines such as Dramamine and Benadryl are most commonly used to treat motion sickness. Ask your child’s healthcare provider about safety and dosing information. The most common side effect of these medications is sedation.

Scopolamine is a different class of medication and is not approved for use in children.

Alternative treatments such as acupressure and ginger are also available, but have not been shown to be effective in scientific studies.