Scopolamine vs Meclizine – Which Is Best for Motion Sickness?


4 Jun 2024

Motion sickness is a common problem for many people – often when traveling by car, plane, boat, or even on amusement park rides. The symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating and fatigue

Two popular medications for treating motion sickness are Scopolamine and Meclizine. 

While a doctor will help determine the best option for you, this article will compare these two drugs to help you understand which one you might be prescribed.

What Qualifies as Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness happens when there is a disconnect between what your eyes see and what your inner ears sense.

This can confuse your brain, leading to symptoms like nausea and dizziness. It can affect anyone, though some people are more susceptible than others.

A Quick Look at Scopolamine

Scopolamine is a medication that is often used to prevent motion sickness. It comes in various forms, including patches, tablets, and injections. The most common form is a transdermal patch that you place behind your ear.

How Does Scopolamine Work?

Scopolamine works by blocking certain signals in the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting. Specifically, it blocks the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in motion sickness. By interfering with these signals, Scopolamine helps prevent the symptoms of motion sickness.

Effectiveness of Scopolamine

Scopolamine is very effective in preventing motion sickness. Many studies have shown that it can significantly reduce symptoms in people who are prone to motion sickness.

It’s often recommended for long trips, such as cruises, where motion sickness can be a persistent problem.

Scopolamine Patch Prescription

Scopolamine has been found to be more effective than other medications in preventing severe motion sickness:

  • In clinical trials, it has demonstrated a high success rate in reducing symptoms, making it a preferred choice for many travelers. 
  • The convenience of the transdermal patch, which delivers the medication steadily over several days, adds to its effectiveness. 
  • This is particularly beneficial for travelers who may forget to take pills regularly.

Side Effects of Scopolamine

Like all medications, Scopolamine has potential side effects, although they tend to be low-to-moderate severity. 

These side effects include:

  • Dry mouth 
  • Drowsiness and/or blurred vision

Some people may also experience dizziness or confusion, which wears off shortly after. It’s crucial to use Scopolamine as directed by your doctor to minimize the risk of side effects.

Staying hydrated can help mitigate dry mouth. Consider avoiding activities that require full alertness if drowsiness occurs, such as driving. Blurred vision and dizziness can be managed by sitting down and focusing on a stable object until the symptoms pass, although it rarely comes to this point.

Meclizine Overview

Meclizine is another medication commonly used to treat motion sickness. It is available over-the-counter and by prescription. Meclizine comes in tablet form and is taken by mouth.

How Does Meclizine Work?

Meclizine works by blocking histamine receptors in the brain. Histamine is a chemical involved in causing nausea and vomiting. By blocking these receptors, Meclizine helps to prevent and treat motion sickness symptoms.

Effectiveness of Meclizine

Meclizine can sometimes prove effective in treating motion sickness, although it’s not prescription-strength. Typically used for shorter trips or less severe cases of motion sickness, many out-of-state & international travelers prefer something more effective. 

Side Effects of Meclizine

Meclizine can also cause similar side effects – including drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. Some people may also experience dizziness or headaches. As with any medication, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when using Meclizine.

Comparing Scopolamine and Meclizine


Both Scopolamine and Meclizine are effective in preventing and treating motion sickness, but consider the following 2 scenarios: 

  • Scopolamine may be more effective for longer trips or more severe motion sickness. 
  • Meclizine is often preferred for shorter trips or less severe cases.

Onset of Action

Scopolamine patches are typically applied several hours before travel and can last for up to three days, staying in place behind your ear.

Meclizine is usually taken about an hour before travel and can last for 24 hours. The choice between the two may depend on the duration and timing of your travel.

Side Effects

Both medications have similar side effects, including drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. It’s difficult to determine which one may cause a more severe reaction of side effects for each individual, but in general, users report side effects around similar levels of severity.


Scopolamine patches are convenient for long trips since they only need to be applied once every three days. Meclizine requires taking a tablet every day, which may be less convenient for some people. However, Meclizine is available over-the-counter, making it easier to obtain.

Who Should Use Scopolamine?

For most people, Scopolamine may be a good choice for those who experience severe motion sickness or are going on long trips. It’s also a good option for people who prefer the convenience of a patch, instead of repeatedly taking pills.

Final Consideration

For travelers, Scopolamine is likely the best option for preventing motion sickness.

The choice between the two depends on various factors, including the severity of your symptoms, the duration of your trip, and your personal preferences.

Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best option for your needs. With the right medication, you can enjoy your travels without the discomfort of motion sickness.

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