Motion Sickness (Travel Sickness): Symptoms, Causes, Types & Treatment


Motion sickness is the feeling that develops when the motion you sense with your inner ear is different from the motion you visualise. Most of us have experienced this distasteful sensation while travelling in an aeroplane, automobile, or amusement park ride. It develops in the event of a conflict between the vestibular, visual, and other proprioceptive systems and is the common response to motion stimuli during travel .

You will feel nauseous and may vomit, as well as develop a severe headache. In comparison to adults, children between the ages of 3 and 12 are increasingly susceptible to motion sickness. Women experience motion sickness more than men and are increasingly viewed during menstrual cycles and pregnancy .

The dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea caused by motion sickness is a result of your body's sensory organs' mixed signals to the brain. Your inner ear helps in controlling the sense of balance (a part of the vestibular system which contains three pairs of semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and the utricle) and send information to the brain whether you are lying down or standing up , .

When you are moving in an aeroplane, you will know the feeling. However, your eyes will not be able to distinguish it - causing your brain to get mixed signals that can be confusing. It is the same when it comes to sailing in a ship or a boat (sea sickness). This, in turn, results in the development of nausea and headache .

Travel sickness is categorised into three and they are as follows

In this, the motion is felt by one's vestibular system but no motion or little motion is detected by the visual system. This is termed as terrestrial motion sickness. Carsickness, airsickness, seasickness, centrifuge motion sickness, virtual reality disorientation, and dizziness due to spinning all fall under this category.

In this case, the motion is sensed by the visual system, so the motion is seen, but no motion or little motion is sensed by the vestibular system. It is referred to as visually induced motion sickness. Space motion sickness, disorientation from films, video games, and other screen images, and virtual reality disorientation fall under this category.

In this, the sense of motion in the vestibular system does not match with the motion that is seen. This happens in an environment where gravity is simulated .

The severe signs of the condition are as follows

Mild symptoms of the condition are as follows

Some of the other common symptoms include sweating, malaise and a general feeling of discomfort .

Travel sickness develops when there is a conflict between one's senses. When the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the sensory systems, that is, the inner ear, eyes, skin pressure receptors, and the muscle and joint sensory receptors - one gets motion sickness . The brain will not be able to understand all the mixed signals, thereby causing the symptoms such as nausea and dizziness .

As the condition does not have any complications, it usually resolves quickly without the need for professional diagnosis. It can be easily diagnosed by observing the signs and symptoms that occur when you are moving or travelling .

Various medications are available for treating the signs and symptoms. The medicines can be taken prior to travel so that it will help in preventing motion sickness .

Most people are not really affected by the symptoms of the condition when they tend to get used to the situation or the movements. You can adopt the following steps to ease the discomfort caused by the symptoms .

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