Saturday, June 22, 2024

Motion sickness remedies


Several years ago, my husband's cousin and wife invited us to join them on a 1-day cruise in Alaska. It was viewing Aialik Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Lunch was on board the ship, and a lovely salmon and crab dinner at Fox Island awaited us on the way back.

We arrived at 9 a.m., at the boat terminal through pouring rain, wind gusts nearly knocked us over, and a temperature of 49 degrees Fahrenheit. The captain canceled the cruise due to the weather, thank heavens. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being tossed about on the boat because I get seasick.

Acupressure helps ease motion sickness for some people. Wearing an elastic band around your wrist activates a particular pressure point, relieving nausea and discomfort. To give this medication-free approach a try, look for Sea Bands®.

Ginger can be an effective motion sickness remedy. For best results, take 500mg to 1000mg of powdered root every 4-6 hours. Fresh ginger root, capsules of ground ginger, or small chunks of sweetened, crystallized ginger also work. My favorite form is crystallized ginger, which weighs twice as much as powdered ginger.

I used to weigh pieces of crystallized ginger with my little apothecary scale left over from pharmacy school. The best results were achieved with chunks about the size of a full-strength aspirin tablet. Ginger ale, ginger tea, and gum didn't have enough ginger to provide me reliable relief.

Dramamine® for motion sickness is a popular non-prescription remedy but watch out: it has two different formulations, the original one and a "less drowsy"formula.

The original version of Dramamine® contains dimenhydrinate, a close cousin of diphenhydramine or Benadry®. Both dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine can prevent motion sickness. Unfortunately, they also make you drowsy and need to be taken frequently.

The last time I took Dramamine®was on a flight home from Orlando to Seattle. After crossing 3 time zones going westbound, I lost track of time, and it wore off right when I needed it.

Meclizine is my most reliable motion sickness remedy. You can buy it 3 ways: Bonine®, Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, and generic meclizine tablets. I recommend the 25mg chewable meclizine tablets unless your doctor advises you to take the 12.5mg tablets instead. 

I never leave home without my chewable meclizine for motion sickness. It's inexpensive, is available as chewable flavored tablets, and rarely causes drowsiness. Best of all, one dose lasts 24 hours.

For more relief, try adding ginger or acupressure to meclizine. Avoid adding dimenhydrinate (the original Dramamine®) to meclizine or Benadryl® (diphenhydramine). Their combination can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation.

If taking meclizine or dimenhydrinate with ginger doesn’t help your motion sickness, ask your doctor about a prescription for scopolamine patches.

Scopolamine is a patch (Transderm-Scop®) you wear behind your ear, lasting 2-3 days. Scopolamine patches are more potent at relieving motion sickness than non-prescription medicines, but they also cause more side effects.

Scopolamine can cause fatigue, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and urinary retention. Talk to your medical provider about whether scopolamine would be a safe choice for you, especially if you have constipation.

Here are 5 Tips for Mastering Motion Sickness:

1. Be prepared.

Motion sickness medicine takes a while to work and is most effective taken as a preventative. You should take or apply motion-sickness remedies at least 30 minutes before experiencing the motion of a boat, car, or plane.

If you take a short-acting nausea medicine like ginger or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine® Original Formula), remember to bring another dose with you. If your outing is delayed, you’ll be able to take another dose before the first one wears off.

2. Face forward.

If possible, sit facing forward on cars, trains, boats, and roller coasters.

3. Keep cool.

Seek out areas where you can get fresh air or a cool breeze on your face. Getting too warm always makes my motion sickness worse, so I wear layers to avoid getting overheated.

4. Choose meclizine over dimenhydrinate.

There are two formulas of Dramamine®: Original Formula and Less Drowsy Formula. They sit side by side on the pharmacy shelf, and it’s easy to confuse one with the other.

I recommend meclizine, the generic version of Bonine® and Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula. Meclizine is just as effective and costs less than those brand-name products.

5. Meclizine works for dogs, too.

For most dogs, the dose of meclizine is 25mg once daily. If your dog is smaller than 25 pounds or already takes medication, check with your veterinarian first.

Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 43-year veteran of pharmacology and the author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Get clear answers to your medication questions at her website and blog,  ©2022 Louise Achey



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