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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2007 Apr;78(4):408-13.

Airsickness prevention in helicopter passengers.

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U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, AL 36362-0577, USA.



Despite many existing treatments, airsickness is an issue of concern for soldiers being transported by helicopter. This experiment examined the efficacy of four airsickness treatments and their effects on performance. This study replicated the transport of soldiers in the cabin of an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter performing many of the flight maneuvers potentially experienced in a night troop transport during turbulent conditions.


A double-blinded, placebo-controlled design was used to compare the effectiveness of four airsickness countermeasures to their placebo controls. There were 64 male, non-aviator subjects (ages 18-34 yr) who were recruited for the study. Of these, 16 subjects were randomly assigned to each of 4 groups: (1) promethazine (25 mg) + caffeine (200 mg); (2) meclizine (25 mg); (3) Scopolamine patch (1.5 mg); and 4) acustimulation wristband. Each individual participated twice, once with the treatment and once with placebo.


The findings indicated that only the combination of promethazine + caffeine showed a statistically significant reduction in nausea and motion sickness severity, and an improvement in reaction time when compared with its placebo control.


Data from this study indicated that of the countermeasures tested, promethazine + caffeine was the most effective at reducing airsickness while producing the fewest side effects when compared with its placebo. In addition, this study demonstrated that over-the-counter caffeine can serve as an effective stimulant counterpart to promethazine. This may be a more appealing option than employing scheduled sympathomimetic drugs in a combat environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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