Motion sickness can happen from any kind of movement, even movement that is expected or that is only imagined. People tend to get motion sickness due to:
It usually stops as soon as the motion stops.
Although motion sickness is fairly common, and often only a trouble, it may cause problems for people who travel a lot. Fortunately, the more you travel, the more you get used to the motion. There are also things you can do to reduce the chance of getting motion sickness.
The most common signs and symptoms of motion sickness include:
Motion sickness happens when the body, the inner ear, and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. This most often happens when you are in a car, boat, or airplane, but it may also happen on flight simulators or amusement park rides. From inside a ship's cabin, your inner ear may sense rolling motions that your eyes cannot see. On the other hand, your eyes may see movement on a "virtual reality" ride that your body does not feel. Even viewing a 3D movie may cause symptoms of motion sickness.
Once a person gets used to the movement and the motion stops, symptoms may come back (although usually only briefly). Sometimes just thinking about movement can cause fear and symptoms of motion sickness. For example, a person who had motion sickness before might get nauseous on an airplane before take-off.
The following are the most common risk factors for motion sickness:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and find out what usually causes the problem. Your doctor does not usually need laboratory tests to make a diagnosis.
There are several ways you can try to prevent car motion sickness:
If you have motion sickness on a plane, try these tips:
If you have motion sickness on a boat, try these tips:
You can use medication to control your symptoms. If you travel often, you may want to learn to control, and prevent symptoms. Mind-body practices, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and biofeedback, may help. Other alternatives include:
Medications for motion sickness may cause drowsiness. Pilots, ship crew members, or anyone operating heavy equipment or driving a car should not take them. These medications may help:
A comprehensive treatment plan to treat motion sickness may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. Ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall treatment plan. Always tell your provider about the herbs and supplements you are using or considering using.
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
Supplements and herbs are marketed in the United States without requirements for safety or effectiveness. There are no credible studies showing that herbs used for motion sickness treatment are safe or work.
The following herbs are sometimes used for nausea and may provide some relief for motion sickness:
Some studies suggest that acupressure may help reduce symptoms of motion sickness in the same way as acupuncture. An acupressure practitioner works with the same points used in acupuncture, but uses finger pressure rather than needles. Acupressure bands are available commercially to help prevent motion sickness. Studies suggest these bands may help delay the onset of symptoms.
Traditionally, the acupuncture point known as Pericardium 6 is said to help relieve nausea. It is on the inside of the wrist, about the length of 2 fingernails up the arm from the center of the wrist crease.
No scientific studies validated the use of homeopathy for treatment of motion sickness. The following homeopathic remedies are sometimes used for nausea:
Biofeedback Training and Relaxation
Biofeedback training may help you relax. You may also learn to control your body responses to decrease nausea and vomiting. Combining biofeedback with gradual muscle relaxation may control nausea in a more effective way.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful in reducing the anxiety that some people with motion sickness experience.
Rapid and shallow breathing often makes symptoms of motion sickness worse. Slow paced diaphragmatic breathing techniques have been explored. While it makes sense that slow, deeper breathing would help lower anxiety, more studies are needed to see whether breathing techniques really help reduce other symptoms.
Although motion sickness usually goes away after the motion stops and causes no lasting harm, it can be devastating for people whose jobs involve constant movement, such as:
People who do not travel often may get used to movement during a trip lasting several days. Even those who travel often may find that symptoms get better as they are more often exposed to motion. However, people who get anxious before a journey often have worsened symptoms of motion sickness. They may need help such as biofeedback and relaxation training.
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Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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