Science Behind Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a common medical problem that gets triggered while travelling in a car, bus, ship, or aeroplane. It can also occur while experiencing virtual reality or during amusement park rides. Motion sickness creates a sensation of dizziness, lightheadedness, vomiting, or nausea. Other symptoms of motion sickness include cold sweat, fatigue, irritability, and restlessness. Motion sickness can be easily diagnosed and cured by the person himself/herself. Sleeping while travelling is yet another form or a variant of motion sickness. Motion sickness is one of the most serious problems for astronauts.

Causes of Motion Sickness

The specific reason responsible for motion sickness is still unknown to researchers and scientists. However, the most common theory that tends to explain the cause of motion sickness in the best possible manner is the mismatched sensory signals. According to this theory, our brain suffers great difficulty in processing information when two or more sensory organs supply different signals to the brain. For instance, while travelling in a car, the eyes of a person convey the message to the brain that the vehicle is not moving because when the vehicle is viewed from the inside it appears to be still, but the ears send a signal to the brain that the vehicle is in motion. The judgement formed by the ears is mostly based on the sound of the accelerating car and the message conveyed by the vestibular system lying in the innermost part of the ear. The main function of the vestibular system is that it tends to provide us with a sense of balance and movement with the help of three semicircular tubules that can sense rotation in different dimensions of space and two hair lined sacks that are filled with fluid, which gets shifted on moving and tickles the hairs, thereby confirming movement in a horizontal or vertical direction. This mismatch in the signals is responsible for motion sickness. Another possible explanation of motion sickness is the difficulty in maintaining the natural posture of the body in unfamiliar situations. The sharp curves on the roads tend to trigger motion sickness in one’s body.

Causes of Motion Sickness


Measures to Avoid Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can be avoided by considering the following measures in advance:

1. Look straight ahead towards the horizon while travelling.

2. Avoid reading books or watching movies during the trip.

3. Avoid overeating, liquor consumption, or smoking prior to the ride.

4. Chewing gum can help reduce motion sickness at a significant level.

5. Consume drugs and medicine prescribed by the doctors two or three hours before the trip.

6. Get plenty of fresh air by sitting close to the window or by turning on the air conditioner.

7. Drink lots of fluids.

8. Have a light meal before the journey.

9. Try to maintain a stable body posture by widening the stance or by taking support from a rigid object.

10. Listen to light music.

Measures to Avoid Motion Sickness

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