Dealing with Motion Sickness

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)

Also called kinetosis, motion sickness occurs when there is an incompatibility between your visual sense of movement and your sense of balance. When it is caused by air travel, it is called airsickness. When it is caused by car travel or boat travel, it is called car sickness and seasickness. No matter what it's called, motion sickness ranges from mild to severe in form, and is never pleasant.

When your brain receives two conflicting motion messages, motion sickness occurs. For example, if you are traveling by boat, one motion message comes from your inner ear that controls your balance, while another motion message comes from your eyes. Your brain receives both messages at the same time, and is conflicted as to whether your body should move since your eyes and balance indicated that you are stationary. The conflict results in a kind of sensory overload, causing the flowing symptoms:

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Clamminess.
  • Paleness.
  • Vomiting.

Since the sensory overload phenomenon is what causes motion sickness, you can develop the malady even while sitting at home on your couch watching television, or while watching a movie in a movie theater. When watching intense movement and motion on a movie screen or large television screen, the eyes suggest that there is movement, while your ears, joints, and skin do not. Recently I viewed a movie at home that involved one scene with a rollercoaster ride shot from the first-person angle. I felt as if I were on the rollercoaster myself, and my stomach lurched with each dip and roll of the coaster, even though my butt was firmly planted on my livingroom couch.

If you're prone to motion sickness, then you already know the symptoms. Dealing with motion sickness involves knowing your triggers, and taking proactive measures to avoid them. Some things that you can do to deal with motion sickness are:

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and greasy and spicy foods before traveling.
  • Do not read while you are in motion.
  • Pass up that trip to the amusement park to ride the rollercoaster.
  • Get out into the fresh air and walk around.
  • Drink ginger ale.
  • Distract your mind from a swaying environment.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Stare at a fixed object on the horizon.
  • Face forward and in a front seat while traveling.
  • Use over-the-counter motion sickness drugs.

Most motion sickness episodes last until soon after the motion stops, or until your brain becomes more comfortable with the motion. Although not contagious by bodily contact, motion sickness can be somewhat contagious in that the nausea hub of the brain is more vulnerable when you can see other people vomiting.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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