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Motion Sickness Advice Compared

Compare the Ingredients
Mouse-over anything in green and the graphics to see more information.

Ingredient Drug Class Availa-
bility
Not for Use
Under Age
Side
Effects
Suggested
Usage
Sources
Cyclizine Antihistamine OTC 6 28 Every 4-8 hours Mayo Clinic,
Wikipedia
Dimenhydrinate Antihistamine OTC 2 30 Every 4-8 hours CDC, NIH
Diphenhydramine Antihistamine OTC 6 31 Every 4-8 hours CDC, NIH
Meclizine Antihistamine OTC 12 28 Once per day CDC, NIH
 
Promethazine Phenothiazine,
Antihistamine
Rx 16 68 Every 8-12 hours CDC, NIH
Scopolamine Anticholinergics Rx 28 16 Every 3 days CDC, NIH
 
Ginger (not a drug) (varies) (no restriction) 1 Every 4 hours NY Times,
HealthLine
 

NIH=U.S. National Institute of Health
CDC=U.S. Center for Disease Control

Side Effects of the Non-prescription Remedies
Cyclizine
OTC
From the CDC -

Common:
  1. drowsiness,
  2. dry mouth/nose/throat,
  3. blurred vision,
  4. urinary retention,
  5. thick respiratory secretions.

Less common:
  1. dizziness,
  2. weakness,
  3. hypotension or hypertension,
  4. cardiac arrhythmia,
  5. wheezing,
  6. sweating,
  7. nausea,
  8. vomiting,
  9. bloating,
  10. diarrhea,
  11. constipation,
  12. jaundice,
  13. anorexia,
  14. headache,
  15. confusion,
  16. tinnitus,
  17. paradoxical hyperexcitability,
  18. seizures,
  19. psychosis,
  20. acute dystonic reaction,
  21. paresthesias,
  22. photosensitivity,
  23. anaphylaxis.
Dimenhydrinate
OTC
From the CDC -

Common:
  1. drowsiness,
  2. dry mouth/nose/throat,
  3. blurred vision,
  4. urinary retention,
  5. thick respiratory secretions.

Less common:
  1. dizziness,
  2. weakness,
  3. hypotension or hypertension,
  4. cardiac arrhythmia,
  5. wheezing,
  6. sweating,
  7. nausea,
  8. vomiting,
  9. bloating,
  10. diarrhea,
  11. constipation,
  12. jaundice,
  13. anorexia,
  14. headache,
  15. confusion,
  16. tinnitus,
  17. paradoxical hyperexcitability,
  18. seizures,
  19. psychosis,
  20. acute dystonic reaction,
  21. paresthesias,
  22. photosensitivity,
  23. anaphylaxis. has also been shown to impair psychomotor performance compared with placebo.

The NIH adds - Common:
  1. Problems with coordination,
  2. fainting.
Diphenhydramine
OTC
From the CDC -

Common:
  1. drowsiness,
  2. dry mouth/nose/throat,
  3. blurred vision,
  4. urinary retention,
  5. thick respiratory secretions.

Less common:
  1. dizziness,
  2. weakness,
  3. hypotension or hypertension,
  4. cardiac arrhythmia,
  5. wheezing,
  6. sweating,
  7. nausea,
  8. vomiting,
  9. bloating,
  10. diarrhea,
  11. constipation,
  12. jaundice,
  13. anorexia,
  14. headache,
  15. confusion,
  16. tinnitus,
  17. paradoxical hyperexcitability,
  18. seizures,
  19. psychosis,
  20. acute dystonic reaction,
  21. paresthesias,
  22. photosensitivity,
  23. anaphylaxis. Medline Plus lists some of the above and adds: loss of appetite,
  24. increased chest congestion,
  25. muscle weakness,
  26. nervousness.
Meclizine
OTC
From the CDC -

Common:
  1. drowsiness,
  2. dry mouth/nose/throat,
  3. blurred vision,
  4. urinary retention,
  5. thick respiratory secretions.

Less common:
  1. dizziness,
  2. weakness,
  3. hypotension or hypertension,
  4. cardiac arrhythmia,
  5. wheezing,
  6. sweating,
  7. nausea,
  8. vomiting,
  9. bloating,
  10. diarrhea,
  11. constipation,
  12. jaundice,
  13. anorexia,
  14. headache,
  15. confusion,
  16. tinnitus,
  17. paradoxical hyperexcitability,
  18. seizures,
  19. psychosis,
  20. acute dystonic reaction,
  21. paresthesias,
  22. photosensitivity,
  23. anaphylaxis.
Ginger
(health supplement)
From the NY Times -


  1. Occasional ginger-flavored burp.

For more detailed information,
including a list of side effects for the prescription remedies,
see our pages on each ingredient -

OTC:   Cyclizine     Dimenhydrinate     Diphenhydramine     Meclizine
Prescription:   Promethazine     Scopolamine
Health Supplement:   Ginger



U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -
The Food and Drug Administration considers four active ingredients to be safe and effective for use in OTC [over-the-counter, non-prescription] drugs for motion sickness, says Gerald Rachanow, deputy director of the monograph review staff in FDA's Office of OTC Drug Evaluation. The ingredients are -
  • cyclizine (Marezine and others),
  • dimenhydrinate (Dramamine® and others),
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl and others), and
  • meclizine (Bonine and others).
- "Taming Tummy Turmoil"
U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) -
Antihistamines used for the prevention of motion sickness include oral dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, promethazine, meclizine, and cyclizine.

  • Promethazine primarily decreases nausea and may be more effective than other antihistamines, but it is the most sedating medication.
  • Meclizine is less sedating and requires only once-a-day dosing, because its duration of action is up to 24 hours.
  • Compared with dimenhydrinate (50 mg) and meclizine (50 mg), promethazine (25 mg) has the greatest adverse impact on psychomotor performance, both in severity and duration of side effects.
  • Dimenhydrinate (100 mg) has also been shown to impair psychomotor performance compared with placebo.

All anti-motion sickness medications can impair alertness and must be used with caution by persons operating vehicles or heavy machinery or engaging in underwater activities. They should be avoided in travelers with narrow-angle glaucoma, gastrointestinal obstruction, or urinary retention (e.g., prostatic hypertrophy); they should be used with caution by travelers with cardiovascular, pulmonary, liver or kidney disease. Only dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine are recommended for use in children and should not be used in children < 2 years of age.

- "Non-Infectious Risks During Travel"



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The content presented in this website is for informational purposes only. Before taking any health supplement or therapy, consult your healthcare professional. Even mild supplements can have varying effects on individuals, and can conflict with your existing medications and diet. See additional information.

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