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Motion Sickness

BioBands for Nausea caused by Motion Sickness - Sea Sickness, Travel Sickness

All of us, at one time or another, have probably had some form of motion sickness. Maybe it was seasickness from a boat ride or cruise ship, or airsickness on a plane. Maybe it was getting “carsick”, or an upset stomach (or worse!) after an amusement park ride.

Motion sickness (also known by the medical term “kinetosis”) is caused by a conflict between the neurological signals that tell us if we’re properly “balanced” or not. For example; when we feel we are moving but our eyes don’t see that movement. It occurs most when we are traveling in a moving vehicle, and creates an ill feeling of being dizzy or nauseated.

The Different Kinds of Motion Sickness

Whether it came from a boat ride, airplane, amusement park ride, a car, train, or flight simulator, the symptoms are the same and the cause is the same. Air sickness & sea sickness are probably the most well-known types of Motion Sickness.

With air sickness, the plane in flight can be bounced around by strong wind currents. – And this can make many people sick to their stomach. This is especially the case during rough landings. It happens to so many people that “air-sick bags” are easily found near each seat.

Sea sickness happens the same way; but because of ocean currents making a ship rock and bob, side-to-side, and up and down. – These unpredictable movements on a vessel can also make us sick and nauseous.

For some people, riding in a car can give them nausea. For others, it’s a train ride or a theme park ride that makes them feel sick.

Overview – Definition, Symptoms, Prevalence

Motion sickness is an acute condition of medical distress that results in skin pallor, weakness, nausea and vomiting. It often starts as stomach discomfort, bodily warmth, headache, dizziness and/or drowsiness, then proceeds to stomach distress, then nausea and vomiting.

Also known by its 3 major venues – seasickness, car sickness, airsickness – motion sickness occurs when your body is being passively transported by a vehicle (boat, car, train, airplane, amusement park ride) that is propelled by its own power. This can create a “sensory conflict” of information to the brain, which responds by sending distress signals to the rest of the body, particularly the autonomic nervous system and (unfortunately) the stomach.

These sensory conflicts typically happen in rough air turbulence, heavy waves at sea, and when there is acceleration and sudden, unexpected motion in different directions. But motion sickness can also happen because of differences between perceived motion and actual motion.

Consider, for example, reading a book in the back seat of a car (actual motion, but no perceived motion) or virtual reality flight training simulators (perceived motion, but no actual motion). Both are known to cause motion sickness symptoms.

According to the experts, almost everyone will get motion sickness if the conditions are extreme enough. In rough seas, nearly all the occupants of a life raft will vomit. A large study (535 subjects) done in India, found the prevalence of motion sickness was about 27%. Among EMT ambulance personnel, 46% report problems with nausea. 7% of seagoing cruise ship passengers report vomiting. And 60% of student aircrews get airsickness during training.

The History of Motion Sickness

The first documented evidence of this condition is in ancient Greek literature from the early days of seafaring history. And it’s interesting to note that the English word “nausea” comes from the Greek word for ship (naus), which is also the origin of the word “nautical”.

As history progressed, we developed more and more sophisticated means of passive travel – faster and larger ships, then trains and cars, then airplanes and space shuttles – each bringing a new source of motion sickness and a larger number of sufferers. For instance, did you know that 75% of astronauts get “space sickness” on their first space flight? Weightlessness in outer space appears to exacerbate the motion sickness problem.

There is even a new form of motion sickness born of virtual reality devices in the computer age. Someone has coined the term “cybersickness” (AKA “simulator sickness”) to describe the same illness when it occurs in users of computer-generated virtual reality devices including flight simulators.