Sometimes when you travel, though, you may feel dizzy or sick to your stomach. Have you ever felt that way? If so, you’ve experienced motion sickness.
Kinetosis — sometimes called motion or travel sickness — is that dizzy, tired and nauseous feeling many people get when they travel. Depending upon your mode of travel, it may be called car sickness, seasickness or airsickness.
About one of every three people is affected by motion sickness even in mild conditions. If travel conditions are bad, such as a storm at sea or turbulence in the air, two out of three people are likely to suffer from motion sickness.
Motion sickness is caused by a disconnect between your brain and the other parts of your body that sense movement. For example, your ears contain liquid in small canals in their innermost parts. This liquid helps your body sense when it’s moving and in what direction.
Your eyes also sense the world around you and can detect when you’re moving and in what direction. Your skin helps your body understand which of its parts are currently touching the ground. Even your muscles and sensory receptors in your joints can tell a lot about your movement.
All of these different systems work together constantly to send information to your brain about your body and its current state of motion. Your brain is like a powerful supercomputer. Scientists know that it takes all of these different pieces of information and instantly puts together an ongoing, changing picture of what you’re doing.
If your brain gets mixed signals, though, motion sickness can be the result. For example, if you’re riding on a boat and reading a book, your inner ears will tell your brain that you’re moving. However, your eyes (focused on the book) and your muscles (sitting) may tell your brain that you’re still. This disconnect can lead to seasickness.
If you tend to get motion sickness frequently, here are a few things you can do to help the situation:
- Keep your eyes focused outside. Avoid reading. Instead, focus on objects in the distance. This helps your eyes communicate the fact that you’re moving to your brain.
- Always sit facing forward. If your eyes and ears sense movement from different directions (like when you’re sitting backwards), it can confuse your brain and make you feel worse.
- Reduce movement as much as possible. The middle of cars, airplanes, boats and trains tend to move less than the outer edges. If you sit toward the middle whenever possible, you’ll reduce the sense of motion as much as possible.
If you feel nauseous from motion sickness, try to stop your movement completely. If you can’t stop the movement, your sickness may get worse and you might have to throw up. If you get motion sickness consistently, you may be able to get special medicine from your parents that will help prevent it.