What causes motion sickness?

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is commonly experienced by most of the individuals. It is a disturbance that creates within the inner ear. It occurs due to repeated motion either due to vehicles like cars, airplanes, trains or it might occur due to different movements that can disturb the physiology of the inner ear. 3-D movies, amusement park rides, riding on a ship or boat can also cause motion sickness.

Motion is recognized by the brain when the system detects the message of motion sickness through various pathways involved in the nervous system that might include the eyes, inner ear, body tissues, and others. When you perform intentional body movements like walking, running or performing exercise then all these movements are coordinated through the brain.

The symptoms which are experienced during motion sickness occur when mixed messages are received at the central nervous system through a sensory system involving the skin pressure receptors, eyes, inner ear, muscles or joints sensory receptors.

For instance, when you are riding on a boat, airplane or car and you avoid looking out through the window, the inner ears sense the upwards and downwards movement and movement in the left or right direction while the eyes see the static view like as if you are sitting still. It is assumed that this conflict between the messages results in motion sickness. 

The signs and symptoms experienced in motion sickness include nausea, vomiting, sweating, pallor, drooling, short breath, drowsiness, dizziness, a general sense of discomfort and malaise where you experience unwell. You undergo headaches, yawning, mild uneasiness and others varying from person to person. The inner ears are responsible for sensing the balance the inner ear forms the network which is termed as the vestibular system. This vestibular system has two sacs which are termed as utricle and saccule while it has 3 pairs of semicircular canals. The vestibular system sends information to the brain about what’s happening around you. The semicircular canals have a fluid that moves around them and allows you to turn the head. The utricle and saccule have the sense to identify gravity and they send messages to the brain which allows you to lie down or stand accordingly.

The brain then takes all the messages from the sensory system and tries making sense of messages it receives but sometimes it gets confused when it receives mixed signals. After an airplane ride or a sea voyage, when you keep your feet on dry land or an airport, you feel as if you are still moving. This results in motion sickness. Motion sickness can be experienced by any of us, but it is commonly experienced by pregnant ladies and children.

You can try these simple things which might help in relieving the symptoms linked with motion sickness. Relax on focus on something that can take your mind off from motion sickness. Focus on deep breaths or start counting backward. Start staring at a static object like a boat, car or something easily visible from the window.  Avoid drinking alcohol and try consuming less food when on the flight. Try breathing fresh air and avoid smoking. Avoid reading as your mind gets confused while traveling. Some people find relief with these natural remedies like eating raw ginger, having a peppermint, stimulating the acupressure points which might help in easing nausea and vomiting. You can also consult your healthcare physician for relieving the motion sickness so he or she might advise you with medications that can help in relieving the symptoms.


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