What Causes Travel Sickness?

Travel sickness also referred to as motion sickness, refers to the feeling of light-headedness, nausea or vomiting induced by most forms of transport such as a car, aeroplane or even sea travel on a boat.

The parts of your body responsible for sending motion-related signals to the brain are focused around the inner ear and the eyes. The inner ear contains three canals of fluid, which signals to the brain whether you are moving or stationary, these are known as the vestibular system. When these signals and the visual signals for the eye are in sync with each other, such as when you’re walking, there is no sickness.

However, when you’re in a car or an aeroplane and you’re watching a screen, your eyes signal that you’re stationary, however the fluid in the vestibular system which moves when you’re in motion, signals to the brain that you’re moving. These conflicting signals confuse the brain and are what result in nausea or, in a lot of cases, actual sickness.

The most common group to suffer from travel sickness are children aged between three and twelve years old as this system of signalling is less mature in this group, and the brain is more easily confused.

Which Tablets Treat Travel Sickness?

While travel sickness treatments range from home remedies such as chewing on certain things, to armbands, one of the most popular travel sickness remedies remains to be pills.

Visit our online travel sickness clinic for treatment options

Avomine (promethazine teoclate)

The most widely used are Avomine tablets with the active ingredient promethazine teoclate which is an antihistamine, however, it’s proven to be very effective as an anti-emetic which means it has anti-sickness properties, as well as commonly reducing other symptoms such as nausea and dizziness. It does this by preventing disturbances in the middle ear from activating the vomiting centre in the brain, which is responsible for the vomiting and feelings of nausea and dizziness associated with travel sickness.

Avomine is readily available from our online doctor service and has the option of the next day delivery service. It is most effective when taken once the night before a long journey, and again one to two hours before a journey, with children 10 years or over and adults recommended to take one, and children aged 5-10 years to take only half. However, it’s important to check with your pharmacist or doctor if you’re uncertain of the correct dosage.

Further information can be found in the Patient Information Leaflet.

Kwells (hyoscine hydrobromide)

There’s also an alternative pill available with the active ingredient hyoscine hydrobromide which is also available under the brand name Kwells. Whilst it’s not an antihistamine, it works in a similar way to Avomine by relieving the symptoms of travel sickness by stopping the signals sent from the vestibular system to the vomiting centre.

Kwells is dissolvable and can be taken before the journey or even during it when the feeling of nausea begins. However, Kwells is not suitable for children under 10.

Further information can be found in the Patient Information Leaflet.

What Side Effects Can I Expect from Taking Travel Sickness Pills?

As with any medication, there are side effects to both Avomine and Kwells. The most commonly reported  side effects are:

Drowsiness and Light-Headedness

This is a common side effect of taking anti-sickness pills, and therefore they should only be used if you do not plan to drive on the journey for which you take them. Drivers should look into alternative treatments for travel sickness. Alcohol consumption can also exacerbate this symptom so do not drink before or while taking any anti-sickness pills.


This is also a fairly common side effect and can be treated with drinking plenty of fluids alongside a suitable painkiller. It’s important to consult your pharmacist on which painkiller is safe for you to take with your medical history and use of travel sickness medication.

Difficulty Passing Urine

This shouldn’t persist once the use of the travel sickness pill has stopped. If it does. Consult your doctor who will be able to find a cause or recommend a suitable treatment.


Again, plenty of water is a very effective treatment for this, alongside a high fibre diet. However, you should also consult your doctor if this persists once your use of anti sickness pills has stopped.

If you experience side effects from any of these pills, you can report them directly via the Yellow Card Scheme HERE or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store. By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of medications.

Can Anyone Take Travel Sickness Pills?

Whilst pills are an effective way to relieve the symptoms of travel sickness,  It’s important to check with your pharmacist or doctor before you take anti sickness tablets if:

  1. You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. You have any issues with your kidneys or liver function problems.
  3. You have a condition which causes increased pressure in your eyes, such as glaucoma.
  4. You have prostate problems or if you have been experiencing any difficulty passing urine.
  5. You have a blockage in your small intestines.
  6. You have epilepsy.
  7. You have any long-term breathing problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  8. You have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

This is not an exhaustive list so ensure that you read the patient information leaflet provided in the box before taking any pills to treat travel sickness.

Visit our online travel sickness clinic for treatment options

  1. Bupa UK- Health Information, Travel Sickness. Available: https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/travel-health/travel-sickness Last accessed January 2019
  2. The BMJ- Clinical Review, Managing Motion Sickness. Available: https://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7430 Last accessed January 2019
  3. Simple Online Pharmacy- Travel Sickness Treatments. Available: https://allrecipes.co.uk/recipes/tag-261/pumpkin-recipes.aspx Last accessed January 2019