Motion Sickness: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness is a general term for an unpleasant combination of symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, that can occur when you are travelling. It is a very common disturbance of the inner ear that is caused by repeated motion such as from the swell of the sea, the movement of a car, the motion of a plane in air, etc. Children from 5 to 12 years old, women, and the elderly seem to be more susceptible to motion sickness. It is also known as travel sickness, sea sickness, air sickness, car sickness.
Motion sickness

Recovery Time

  • It lasts for 15 to 30 min.
  • Generally by adaptation to certain travel modes it is completely prevented.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What causes motion sickness?
Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body that detect motion send unexpected or conflicting messages to the brain. One part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear, vision, and sensory nerves that help you keep your balance) may sense that your body is moving, while the other parts do not sense motion. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of big waves, but your eyes do not see any movement. This leads to a conflict between the senses and results in motion sickness.

Q2.  How are anti-emetic medications helpful in motion sickness?
The most commonly used anti-emetic agents act on sites in the central nervous system, by suppressing CTZ in brain considered responsible for vomiting. Antihistamines such as meclizine and dimenhydrinate and anticholinergic drugs like scopolamine act on labyrinthine pathways and are useful in motion sickness and inner ear disorders.

Q3.  I am having migraine. Am I prone for motion sickness?
Not necessarily, migraine and motion sickness happens due to different etiologies though they have the common symptoms. The anti-emetic medicines taken for migraine could be consumed for motion sickness also. There are people who are having migraine but they have developed habituation in traveling and do not feel motion sick.

Q4.  Can I get used to motion that usually makes me sick?
Yes, but it is not guaranteed. This is called habituation and refers to your body s ability to get used to the effects of a particular kind of motion. Habituation is linked to your brain learning and remembering to associate new motions and signals. Infrequent exposure does not build habituation. Habituation is not permanent and requires frequent exposure, and if you stop exposure to that form of motion, after time you may become susceptible again. Habituation is also not transferable. Habituation to motion on a cruise may not stop you getting motion sick in a car or on an airplane.

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