Traveling with Your Child's Motion Sickness
A pharmacist with advice on medication to help your child
Summer's almost over and it's time for one last trip. Families are traveling all over the world by cars, trains, boats and planes. These different methods of travel can be a wonderful experience for children, but they may also come along with negative effects, like motion sickness. Motion sickness is the body’s response to different types of movement, or even virtual reality experiences. Though motion sickness can affect anyone, certain people may be at higher risk. Children 2 to 12 years of age are more prone to motion sickness, but toddlers and infants generally do not experience it.
Motion sickness commonly presents as nausea, vomiting, sweating, headache, or drowsiness. Other symptoms may be an increase in saliva, loss of appetite, or general discomfort. There are steps you can take to help prevent or treat motion sickness before turning to medications. First, be aware of what causes your child’s motion sickness and try to avoid those activities when possible. When certain activities cannot be avoided (for example, driving in a car), choose the best seating position for your child to reduce motion or the feeling of motion (for example, sitting by a window). Another way to prevent motion sickness is to make sure your child drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wrist bands are also available that put pressure on a part of the wrist that can help some children.
Medications to treat or prevent motion sickness are also available at your local pharmacy without a prescription from the doctor. Most of these medications are antihistamines, similar to medications used for seasonal allergies. The most common are called dimenhydrinate (Dramamine©) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl©) and these are approved for over-the-counter use in children 6 years of age and older. Meclizine (Dramamine Less Drowsy© or Bonine©) can be given to children 12 years of age and older, and may cause less drowsiness than the first two medications. Doses for these over-the-counter medications are:
- Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine©)
- Children 6 to 12 years: 25 mg to 50 mg every 6 to 8 hours (maximum of 150 mg/day)
- Children older than 12 years: 50 mg to 100 mg every 4 to 6 hours (maximum of 400 mg/day)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl©)
- Children 6 years and older: 12.5 mg to 25 mg every 6 to 8 hours (maximum 300 mg/day)
- Meclizine (Dramamine Less Drowsy© or Bonine©)
- Children 12 years and older: 25 mg to 50 mg once per day
All over-the-counter medications will have dosing instructions, so it is important to read the package before giving them to your children. These medications may be used in younger children, but it is important to ask your child’s doctor or pharmacist if they are appropriate. If you have any questions about the medication, doses, or how to give it to your child be sure to consult your child’s healthcare provider or pharmacist.
If your child is under 6 years old, call your pediatrician for guidance.
About the Author
Lauren Duran is a pediatric Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy resident at Cook Children's. Cook Children's pharmacists are here to help parents and make their child feel better. They are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your child's medications with a call or an email. The pharmacy is located on the first floor of the medical center, next to the Emergency Department. To learn more about Cook Children's Retail Pharmacy, click here.