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Health Care

Motion Sickness: How Do I Get Rid of It?

Do you get carsick? If you do, you should know that motion sickness is caused by a conflict between the messages your eyes and ears send to your brain. If you want help with the issue, it’s better to contact a telemedicine doctor today.

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion estimates that about 40 million Americans experience some form of motion sickness every year. Motion sickness is induced whenever your senses clash, whether you’re on a spinning wheel, a carnival ride, a sailboat, or a plane. 

Suppose you’re on a fair ride that’s whirling you around and upturned. All three of your senses are picking up on different things simultaneously. All of those confusing signals are too much for your brain to handle, and as a result, you become dizzy and nauseated.

What is Sensory Conflict?

Some people get motion sickness when they’re in cars, trains, or airplanes. Other people react to virtual reality headsets, while some get sick from reading on the back of a ship or plane. If you want to know how to avoid motion sickness, the best place to start is to understand what causes it.

Blurred image of people riding a Ferris wheel

Sensory conflict theory says that motion sickness occurs when there is a mismatch between two or more of the following:

  • Sensory input: How does information about movement come in?
  • For example, if you feel you’re moving but look out the window and don’t see anything moving (or vice versa), your brain may interpret this as a problem and trigger a sickness response
  • Sensory integration: How can our brain take sensory input (what we feel, hear, see and smell) and create movement signals that allow us to move?
  • This can be a problem when you’re moving in one direction, but your visual inputs tell you you’re moving in another.
  • Sensory feedback: How do our bodies receive and interpret sensory input?
  • This refers to whether your senses agree with each other — if they don’t, your brain will assume something is wrong and trigger a sickness response. If you’re feeling queasy, it’s not because of what is happening around you — it’s because of what’s happening inside your head.

Theory says that this conflict causes disruption in the somatosensory system, impairing how we perform motor tasks. You can also experience conflicts between your senses when you’re moving on different types of surfaces — like walking on the grass while looking at the pavement. Or when you’re moving your head and eyes around a lot — like at a theme park.

What Factors Contribute to Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness can be triggered by a number of factors, including:

  • The quality and frequency of visual information received by the eyes.
  • Changes in head position or direction of gaze; for example, while driving a car, watching a movie, or reading on a plane.
  • Gustatory receptor stimulation, for example, smelling something bad while eating food and reading simultaneously.

A person reading on a plane

Symptoms of Motion Sickness

Nausea, vomiting, and sweating are some of the most common symptoms of motion sickness. You might also experience an upset stomach, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, dizziness, and irritability. The severity depends on many factors, including how long you’re exposed to the stimuli and whether you’re prone to motion sickness.

If you notice your symptoms worsen while traveling, it’s time to reach out to a telemedicine doctor.

Treatment for Motion Sickness

1. Identify Your Triggers

Pay attention to what triggers your motion sickness. It could be traveling in a car, on a boat, or even reading in the car. Next, take adequate measures to reduce your symptoms.

2. Treat Your Symptoms 

While the following steps can help prevent and treat motion sickness symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness and even vomiting and upset stomach as suggested by NCBI, you should always consult a doctor before getting a treatment.

  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing while looking at the sky.
  • Wear acupressure wristbands or try pressing ‘pericardium 6’ located 2 inches above your wrist crease to help ease nausea.
  • Don’t read while traveling.
  • Wear loose clothing, so it doesn’t restrict blood flow to your extremities.
  • Don’t eat greasy or spicy foods before traveling.
  • Don’t take medication that makes you drowsy until you’re no longer at risk for motion sickness. Then take sleeping pills at night.
  • Get plenty of rest before your trip. Motion sickness can make it hard to sleep.
  • Avoid reading or looking at screens in cars and boats as much as possible. If reading is important to you, bring an e-reader with no screen lighting and use the sleep mode when not actively reading.

3. Treat Other Conditions That May Cause Motion Sickness

For example, if you have migraines, taking pain relievers before traveling may help prevent motion sickness caused by the movement of the vehicle. If you have inner ear infections or diabetes, these may also cause you to feel nauseated when you travel by land or sea so ensure to make necessary preparations before you get onboard. 

Medication For Managing Symptoms of Motion Sickness 

1. Antihistamines

Antihistamines are frequently prescribed by doctors to treat allergies and can also help avoid motion sickness and relieve symptoms. Only drowsiness-inducing antihistamines are effective. Using formulations that doesn’t make you drowsy won’t help.

2. Patches

These include anti-nausea and anti-vomiting patches or pills made of scopolamine. The patch is applied behind the ears four hours prior to travel. After a period of three days, the patch is removed, and a fresh one is applied. This drug, which has the potential to produce dry mouth, is only licensed for use of adults.

3. Tranquilizers

Benzodiazepines such as Valium are prescription medications that treat nausea, dizziness, and anxiety. 

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t take any of the above medication without a doctor’s prescription.

A little bit of motion sickness is natural. You might feel a little queasy after a boat ride or a bumpy plane ride. But when motion sickness interferes with your daily life and activities, it’s time to contact a virtual doctor. 

Good news: Telemedical services now offer a convenient way for you to connect with doctors online!

Contact America’s leading virtual healthcare provider, TelMDCare, to get acute care from professional online doctors who specialize in treating motion sickness. Book a virtual healthcare appointment now for as low as $35. Speak to a doctor online to learn more about health treatments.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only. We don’t recommend using medication without a doctor’s prescription.

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