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Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a condition that causes nausea, dizziness and other problems. It happens to people when they are on a boat, in a car, on a carnival ride or in other moving vehicles.

Motion is sensed by the brain when it receives signals from

  • The inner ear, which provides information to the brain about motion, speed and gravity
  • The eyes, which provides vision
  • The deeper tissues of the body surface, which senses the position of different body parts in relation to other parts of the body

When the body is moved intentionally, for example when we walk, the inputs from the ear, eye and body tissues match our brain. When there is unintentional movement of the body, these inputs might not match the brain. Inputs from the eye, ear and body tissues also might not match each other. An example would be your eyes not sensing movement when you are inside the room of a ship. However, your ears sense ongoing head movements due to the motion of the ship, resulting in a difference in inputs between the ear and eyes. These differences in inputs may be the cause of motion sickness.

Symptoms of Motion Sickness:

  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Burping 
  • Increased salivation 
  • Feeling warm 
  • Sweating a lot
  • A general feeling of discomfort

What you can do

  • Keep your eyes on the outside world while you are in motion
    - For example, if you are in a car, sit at the front and look in the direction you are moving; if you are on a boat, stay on the deck and look to the horizon. This helps to match what you see to the movement you
      are feeling, and makes you less likely to feel sick 
  • Avoid reading, watching a movie, or looking at things close to you while inside a moving vehicle
  • Lying on your back can ease motion sickness
  • There are a number of medicines that can help prevent and treat motion sickness. In general, these medicines work best if you take them before symptoms start
  • Ginger has been used traditionally to prevent motion sickness. However, ginger may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood-thinners such warfarin or aspirin.
  • Acupressure - Pressure at the P6 acupressure point on the inside of the wrist, either by applying pressure manually or with a wrist band has been reported to be effective for some people. The P6 acupressure point is located three finger breadths below the wrist on the inner arm in between the two tendons. 

When to see a doctor

Most cases of motion sickness are mild and can be self-treated. However, you should see a doctor in very bad cases and or if your symptoms become worse with time.

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This article does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. People with special health needs such as babies, children below 12 year old, elderly and pregnant ladies should see a doctor instead of self-treatment. Always read the instructions and warnings on the package before taking any medicine. 

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