Kinetosis, more commonly referred to as motion sickness, refers to the feelings of nausea and dizziness associated with travel by car, plane, or boat. It’s caused by your brain receiving confusing signals from the inner ear’s vestibular system—comprised of three pairs of semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and utricle. They send information about what’s going on around you to the brain.
And here’s what’s interesting: Although you may feel that you’re in motion while in a car, plane, or boat, your eyes do not experience this sensation. This sensory conflict is what causes the symptoms associated with motion sickness.
Motion sickness has been recorded all the way back to the days of the Ancient Greeks and it remains incredibly common amongst people today. It is usually self-diagnosed and can be treated in a variety of ways.
Motion Sickness Symptoms
Motion Sickness symptoms vary, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Shallow breathing
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite
- Increase in saliva production
Motion Sickness Types
Though motion sickness varies between people, it is often classified into three distinct subtypes. They are:
Sea Sickness: This subtype refers to the sensation of nausea and vomiting while on a boat experiencing the continuous motion of the ocean.
Car Sickness: Car Sickness is experienced while in a moving automobile and has similar symptoms to Sea Sickness.
Air Sickness: This subtype occurs during air travel and can cause nausea, vomiting, virago, and increased fatigue.
Motion Sickness is caused by conflicting messages from the sensory systems: the inner ear, eyes, skin pressure receptors, and the muscle and joint sensory receptors.
To prevent motion sickness, try any of the following during your next car, plane, or boat ride.
Scopolamine. This is the most commonly prescribed medication for motion sickness. It must be taken before symptoms start. It is available as a patch that’s placed behind the ear 6-8 hours before travel.
Meclizine This is most effective when taken 1 hour before travel. It’s not recommended for children under 12. Side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth.
Sit by the window and look outside. This can help realign your brain and eyes to prevent nausea and vomiting.
Avoid strong smells. This can increase nausea.
Avoid spicy or greasy foods. Eating these prior to a trip can increase nausea.
Do not read a book or tablet. This can increase dizziness and nausea.
Face forward. Facing backward while in motion can increase motion sickness.
If you believe you’re experiencing motion sickness or you experience many of these symptoms, you have a number of options for prevention and treatment. These include:
Tap a nap. Taking a nap while on a form of moving transportation can correct the conflict between the inner ear and eyes.
Chew gum. Chewing gum or a snack while experiencing motion sickness can help correct the imbalance that causes motion sickness.
Cool air. If you are experiencing motion sickness while in a moving vehicle, turning up the AC and getting cool air on your face can help lessen nausea.
Look at the horizon. Gazing out in the direction of the horizon and focusing on the direction of travel can help reorient your eyes and brain to the motion.
CBD Oil. CBD and its acid derivatives have proved effective in the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
Acupressure. Like acupuncture, acupressure works by stimulating healing sites. However, in acupressure, the pressure is applied to these sites rather than the insertion of needles.
Ginger. Ginger has been cited as an effective treatment method for those suffering from motion sickness. It can be taken as a tablet or chewed fresh off the stem.
Often, finding the right treatment takes trial and error. Talk to your doctor to explore your treatment options if your motion sickness symptoms are severe.