Motion Sickness

(Air Sickness; Car Sickness; Sea Sickness)

Definition

Motion sickness is characterized by the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting can be caused by motion itself or simply from feeling the sensation of motion, as when watching a movie or playing a video game.

Causes

Balance and equilibrium are maintained by an interaction among the inner ears, the eyes, pressure receptors on the skin, and motion receptors in the muscles and joints.Motion sickness results when conflicting messages regarding spatial orientation and motion of the body are sent to the central nervous system. For example, reading a book while riding in a car may cause your eyes to send different messages than your inner ears do regarding motion.
Central Nervous System
Central Nervous System
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Motion sickness is more common in women and children. Other factors that may increase your chance of motion sickness include:
  • Family members who get motion sickness
  • A long or rough car, boat, plane, or train ride
  • Amusement park rides
  • Migraine headaches

Symptoms

The most common symptoms include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea or vomiting
Other symptoms include:
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Sweating
  • Cold, clammy feeling
  • Feeling faint
  • Headache
  • Loss of color, especially in the face

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Treatment

Symptoms of motion sickness usually go away soon after the motion stops. But, for some people, the symptoms can last a day or more. The main treatment for motion sickness is rest. To help control vomiting, medications may be given rectally or through an IV. If motion sickness lasts a long time, fluids may be given in order to prevent dehydration.

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