Case scenario

Alex, aged 9, is due to embark on a 90-minute boat ride with his father to go snorkelling. Alex has previously experienced motion sickness in a similar situation, with symptoms of nausea and vomiting, which resolved quickly after reaching land. His father asks for advice about any preventive measures and medicine that can help reduce the risk of a repeat of Alex‘s symptoms.

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Discuss the pathophysiology of motion sickness
  • Identify common symptoms of motion sickness
  • Explain the treatment options for motion sickness
  • Discuss the role of the pharmacist in managing a patient with motion sickness.

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.3, 2.4, 3.2

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Introduction

Motion sickness (or travel sickness) is a syndrome of symptoms a person may experience as a consequence of exposure to certain types of actual or perceived motion.1-6 The primary symptom experienced is usually nausea.1-6

Any person with an intact vestibular system may experience motion sickness with exposure to sufficient stimulus.2,3 However, the threshold for this stimulus to cause motion sickness varies widely between people.3 Motion sickness is more common in children aged 2–15 years, females, those who suffer from migraines, those with hormonal factors (i.e. early pregnancy) and in people with vestibular disorders.5,6

Motion sickness is a common condition with usually mild symptoms. However, it can be debilitating and significantly affect a person’s ability to travel, work and enjoy certain recreational activities.

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