Is Motion Sickness an Illness?

Motion sickness is characterized by the feeling of dizziness, nausea, sweating, headache and sometimes even vomiting, pale skin, fatigue and an increase in saliva production. It’s a common condition that affects a lot of people especially when they travel or when they are on amusement park rides.

Common Causes of Motion Sickness
Motion sickness happens when the movement you see is different from the movement that you sense in your ears and eyes. This means that the signals that your brain receives from your eyes, skin pressure receptors, joint and muscle sensory receptors, and inner ears (the labyrinth) are not in sync. If your eyes see differently than your body feels, or vice versa, you will get the feeling of motion sickness. The inner ear senses the gravity, motion and acceleration, the deeper tissues of the body are the proprioceptors, while your eyes get the signal through the vision. In order not to feel sick, all four sources of the signals must be in coordination.

Motion sickness might also be affected by the levels of the neurotransmitters in the brain such as the norepinephrine, histamine, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters are substances that assist in the transmission of the signals in the nervous system.

You may have heard of the name sea sickness or mal de mer that refers to people getting sick from the repeated motion of the boat caused by the swell of water. Sea sickness is a form of motion sickness and is similar to the sick feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster, elevator, plane or car.

Prevention and Treatment of Motion Sickness
Motion sickness isn’t fatal, but the affected person should watch out for dehydration caused by excessive vomiting. When motion sickness progressively worsens or happens more frequently, you will need to book an appointment with your doctor to check if you have problems in the inner ear or nervous system.

If you have car sickness, make sure that you check the proper ventilation and seating area in the vehicle, because poor ventilation and sitting in areas where you cannot see outside the window can trigger motion sickness. Make sure to observe the following as well so you don’t experience motion sickness: do not read while you’re traveling, do not smoke, avoid big meals before traveling, keep your eyes fixed on the horizon and rest your head properly, and avoid dairy products and salty food before traveling.

The following medications will also help alleviate the symptoms:
1. Meclizine. This should be taken an hour before travel, but it’s not suitable for children younger than 12 years.
2. Scopolamine. The most prescribed medication for motion sickness and can last for a maximum of three days.
3. Cyclizine. This should be taken 30 minutes before travel, but it’s not suitable for children younger than 6 years.
4. Promethazine. This should be taken 2 hours before travel so the effects can last for up to 8 hours.
5. Dimenhydrinate. This is taken every 4 to 8 hours depending on your travel time.

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