How to Deal With Motion Sickness on Rides
Co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD
Updated: March 29, 2019
Motion sickness on amusement parks rides takes the amusement right out of the experience. Our eyes, inner ears, muscles, and joints senses these motion changes and transmits the information to our brain. When the ride begins to rock, these different parts of our bodies send different information, which disorients our brains and leads to queasiness, dizziness, and in the worst situations, projectile vomit. Roller coasters aren’t the only place that this can occur, so the advice for dealing with motion sickness on rides is applicable to boats, trains, planes, and motor vehicles. In order to overcome motion sickness, you can take medication or adjust other aspects of your life that might exacerbate motion sickness, like diet and body position.
Method One of Two:
Taking Medication for Motion Sickness
Get some over-the-counter dramamine. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, but brand names vary) is an antihistamine drug that can be purchased at most grocery stores and pharmacies. These drugs block receptors in the brain associated with nausea and vomiting. You can purchase dramamine in two tablet forms — drowsy and non-drowsy. Non-drowsy is best for amusement parks. If you are taking a train or a plane long distance and can sleep, the drowsy kind will work well.
To prevent motion sickness, the first dose should be taken 30 minutes to one hour before you go to the amusement park. Adults and children older than age 12 can usually take dimenhydrinate every four to six hours as needed to prevent or treat motion sickness. Children under 12 can usually be given dimenhydrinate every six to eight hours or as needed to prevent or treat motion sickness, but talk to your child’s doctor before using medications on young children.
There are a few other similar medications used for motion sickness. check with your doctor or pharmacist on which medication may be best for you.
Acquire a scopolamine patch. You’ll need to see a doctor to get a prescription for this medication. Generally, this medication is saved for those who aren’t helped by dramamine. Most of the time, scopolamine is administered in a patch form.
Talk to your doctor about potential side effects of this medication, which can include drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, or hallucinations.
People with glaucoma or certain other medical problems may not be able to use scopolamine, so make sure to tell your doctor about any medical problems you have.
Apply a scopolamine patch. The patch should be applied as directed on the package. Normally, it should be placed on the back of the ear, at least four hours prior to when it is actually needed. Wash behind your ear before applying. Remove the patch from the protective packaging. Place on the skin. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Leave on for as long as you need it or as long as the package prescribes.
Try some ginger supplements. Ginger (zingiber officinale) is cheap and effective. You can consume ginger raw or in lozenge/pill form. You can purchase ginger at any grocery store or pharmacy.
If you want to take raw ginger before you get on a ride, just peel it and dice it into a small cube. Picture a piece of gum and try to make your raw ginger resemble that size. Know that many find the aftertaste of ginger to be pungent and generally unpleasant. If this is you, choose the pill or lozenge form.
Method Two of Two:
Riding Strategically to Avoid Motion Sickness
Eat something to settle your stomach. Either before you get on the ride or when you get off the ride, find somewhere to eat something that will soothe your stomach, like crackers or ginger ale. Bland food, high in carbohydrates and low in fats are best for motion sickness. Eat foods with ginger in them or breads, cereals, grains, or fruits.
Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the stomach lining, making your whole system more susceptible to problems.
Sit in the most stable part of the ride. Depending on the vehicle, this will change. Generally, the most stable part of a roller coaster is the middle. The back and front of the ride tend to whip around more than the middle. In cars, the most stable part is the front seat. On boats and planes, the most stable part is the middle again.
Keep your head and neck straight. Since motion sickness is often caused by conflicting signals from various parts of your body, try to keep your head and neck straight at all times. By keeping your body in a straight line, you’ll keep your head from bouncing around more. On roller coasters, this is especially important if you want to avoid head and neck injuries.
Keep your eyes on a fixed point. You are more likely to get dizzy if your eyes are swirling around in front of you. Keep your eyes on a fixed point wherever you are. If you are on a roller coaster, it helps to stare at the car in front of you or simply to close your eyes. If you are on a boat, stare at the horizon. This will reduce sea-sickness.
Reduce your activity. Simplicity is best for motion sickness. Obviously, this doesn’t really apply to amusement park rides, where multitasking is nearly impossible. But on planes, trains, boats, or in cars, try to do less. Stop reading your book or watching a movie. Just sit back and relax to cure motion sickness.
Apply pressure to your P6 point. The acupuncture point known as Pericardium 6 is said to relieve general nausea. It is on the inside of the wrist, a little more than an inch up the arm from the center of the wrist crease. Many travel stores sell wristbands with built in buttons that apply pressure to this point. Scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of this method on motion sickness.
There is still some debate as to whether the pressure point or the act of pressing the point helps reduce nausea. Either way, give it a try.
I am going to the fair with some friends, and every time I ride a ride or even look at a fast ride, I get dizzy and my stomach starts to turn. How do I prevent that?
A way to relieve tension from your stomach is to scream instead of holding your breath. You can also ask others about their experiences or ride with friends. Don’t watch the ride while you are in line or walking past it. You can also think of something funny to get your mind off of it.
One of my friends was sick after the Rampage. She said she didn’t have motion sickness and was fine before. She was vomiting after. Any ideas why she was unwell?
It most likely was because she ate something before the ride or because of the twists and turns. The intensity of the ride could have caused it.
What are some types of roller coasters I should avoid if I don’t want to get sick?
Don’t start off with the fastest or tallest roller coasters as those can sometimes cause motion sickness. Also, avoid roller coasters that have a lot of loops or quick jerks/turns.
I am going to Adventure Island with my school as a trip. I suffer from motion sickness, how can I avoid vomiting?
Dramamine. It’s an over the counter medication for motion sickness, and I’ve found it works pretty well. There may be a non-name brand version as well, I’m not sure. As usual, read the label and follow the directions.
I just got off a ride, how do I stop my nausea?
Find a nearby bench and sit down for a bit. Take a few deep breaths and congratulate yourself that you successfully rode the ride. Think about how the ride was so much fun and that it was worth it. Before you know it, your nausea will be gone.
How can I prevent puking after getting off a roller-coaster?
Don’t be nervous and remember everything is okay. One thing that helps is closing your eyes, and squeeze the bars as tight as you want to.
I heard that there’s types of food I can eat to prevent nausea and motion sickness before riding a ride. What foods are best?
Try ginger or crackers. If you are at an amusement park or even on the go, you can also try drinking a sports drink like Gatorade. Water can help some people, but can also make others vomit.
What do I do if I feel like the world is shaking after I ride a ride?
Try medication beforehand, or afterwards sit out for a bit and take some deep breaths. This also could be because of the intensity of the ride; either don’t ride it or sit in the most stable part.
Can I take Dramamine if I am pregnant?
Yes, Dramamine is safe for expectant mothers.
Avoid Nausea when Reading in the Car
Prevent Air Sickness on a Plane
Use a Flash Pass at Six Flags
Overcome a Fear of Scary Rides
Prepare for and Enjoy an Amusement Park
Enjoy a Theme Park
Take Action when You Lose Sight of Your Child at an Amusement Park
Wait in Line for an Amusement Park Ride
Visit Legoland Florida
Visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Visit Busch Gardens Tampa
Go to Everland
Ride Kingda Ka
About This Article
Laura Marusinec, MD
Doctor of Medicine
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a Board Certified Pediatrician in Wisconsin. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995.
Categories: Motion Sickness | Amusement and Theme Parks
↑Tal D, et al. Artificial Horizon Effects on Motion Sickness and Performance. Otology & Neurotology. 33:878.2012.
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