Classification and external resources
Specialty emergency medicine
ICD-10 T75.3
ICD-9-CM 994.6

Airsickness is a sensation which is induced by air travel.[1] It is a specific form of motion sickness, and is considered a normal response in healthy individuals. Airsickness occurs when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the body (including the inner ear, eyes and muscles) affecting balance and equilibrium.

The inner ear is particularly important in the maintenance of balance and equilibrium because it contains sensors for both angular (rotational) and linear motion. Airsickness is usually a combination of spatial disorientation, nausea and vomiting.[2]


Common symptoms of airsickness include:

Nausea, vomiting, vertigo, loss of appetite, cold sweating, skin pallor, difficulty concentrating, confusion, drowsiness, headache, and increased fatigue.[1] Severe airsickness may cause a person to become completely incapacitated.[1][2]


The following factors increase some people's susceptibility to airsickness:


Travelers who are susceptible to motion sickness can minimize symptoms by:



Medications that may alleviate the symptoms of airsickness[1] include:

Pilots who are susceptible to airsickness should not take anti-motion sickness medications (prescription or over-the-counter).[1][2] These medications can make one drowsy or affect brain functions in other ways.

Non-pharmacologic remedies

A method to increase pilot resistance to airsickness consists of repetitive exposure to the flying conditions that initially resulted in airsickness. In other words, repeated exposure to the flight environment decreases an individual’s susceptibility to subsequent airsickness.[1] Recently, several devices have been introduced that are intended to reduce motion sickness through stimulation of various body parts (usually the wrist).[6]

Natural remedies

There are numerous alternative remedies for motion sickness. One such is ginger, but it is ineffective.[7]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Benson AJ (2002). "35". Motion Sickness. In: Medical Aspects of Harsh Environments. 2. Washington, DC: Borden Institute. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Antunano, Melchor J., M.D. Medical Facts for Pilots (pdf) Federal Aviation Administration, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Publication: AM-400-03/1.
  3. Hain, Timothy C., M.D. (2006) Motion Sickness.
  4. Weinstein SE, Stern RM (October 1997). "Comparison of marezine and dramamine in preventing symptoms of motion sickness". Aviat Space Environ Med. 68 (10): 890–4. PMID 9327113.
  5. Spinks AB, Wasiak J, Villanueva EV, Bernath V (2007). Wasiak J, ed. "Scopolamine (hyoscine) for preventing and treating motion sickness". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD002851. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002851.pub3. PMID 17636710.
  6. Bertolucci LE, DiDario B (December 1995). "Efficacy of a portable acustimulation device in controlling seasickness". Aviat Space Environ Med. 66 (12): 1155–8. PMID 8747609.
  7. Brainard A, Gresham C (2014). "Prevention and treatment of motion sickness". Am Fam Physician. 90 (1): 41–6. PMID 25077501.
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