All About Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, also known as travel sickness, car sickness, sea sickness, and air sickness, is a very common illness among people today. It occurs when there is a difference between what the eyes perceive as motion and the vestibular system’s sense of movement. In other words, the eyes and the ears disagree in their perception of movement. Common symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, hyperventilation, and just an overall feeling of general malaise.

The brain is able to sense movement by receiving signals from the inner ears, eyes, muscles, and joints. When these sensory cues do not match, a conflict is generated in the brain, and it is thought that this conflict creates the symptoms of motion sickness. For example, if the eyes indicate that a person is stationary (eg, being below deck on a ship), but the ears sense ongoing head movement (eg, due to motion of the ship), these two sensory systems conflict and create symptoms of motion sickness.

There are many different treatments for motion sickness. Looking out the window of the car toward the horizon can help create a sense of balance by providing a visual reaffirmation of motion. Naps can also help to resolve the conflict the between the eyes and inner ear. Fresh, cool air, chewing gum, or snacking can be beneficial. In addition, ginger is known to be an anti-emetic. Therefore, ginger tea, crystallized ginger, or even ginger snap cookies can help relieve motion sickness.

There are also a variety of medications available to help treat motion sickness. Dramamine and Bonine, both anti-histamines, are popular over-the-counter pills. If these are ineffective, then you can talk with your physician about a prescription medication. Scopalamine is one of the most common medications use to prevent motion sickness, and is often given as a transdermal patch. The patch must be applied 4-6 hours prior to your “adventure” and can be applied every 72 hours. The patch can be placed just behind the ear, and you will be set to go!

If you have any additional questions about motion sickness, it is always best to consult with your doctor. Hopefully these tips will help keep you free from motion sickness!

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