What is motion sickness?
Motion sickness, or kinetosis, is the occurrence of unpleasant symptoms, specifically nausea and vomiting, during real or perceived motion. Depending on the mode of travel, this sensation of nausea and vomiting can have varying names such as seasickness, which is the most common form of motion sickness. Sudden movements, such as that of a roller-coaster, can also induce a feeling of nausea. Motion sickness is not a disease, and although it is uncomfortable will generally resolve without any serious or lasting effects.
How does motion sickness occur?
The exact mechanism behind motion sickness is not fully understood, however it is thought to arise in the brain due to a disparity between sensory inputs. The brain interprets movement due to information from the eyes – visual Credit union point awareness, inner ear – balance and special orientation, and muscle fibres – relative physical positioning. When a conflict arises between vision and balance, for example riding in a car or travelling in an airplane, the visual input tells the brain the body is not moving, whereas the vestibular system, a vital part of the inner ear, informs the brain it detects movement. This results in discordance and produces the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
Who it affects?
Motion sickness is a fairly common occurrence, with one third of people being predisposed to developing nausea during minor balance variations. That number increases to nearly two thirds of people who are likely to develop motion sickness during extreme conditions, such as travelling on rough seas. There have also been studies that suggest women are more susceptible to developing motion sickness, especially pregnant women, and also children between the ages of 2-12.
There are no definitive ways to prevent motion sickness, however there are some measures that may reduce the likelihood of developing, or exacerbating motion sickness.
There are many ideas on how to treat motion sickness, each with varying clinical results. Often it may be a case of personal preference or working out what best suits the individual.
Non-pharmacological methods include acupressure, herbals supplements – in particular ginger as it has natural anti-emetic properties, and physical therapy that focuses on repeated exposure to the movement that causes nausea in the hopes of decreasing its effect.
Pharmacological management – there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications available to combat motion sickness, however the advice of a medical practitioner should always be sought before taking these medications. Furthermore, medications used in the management of general nausea and vomiting often have no effect on motion sickness.