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Motion sickness (or seasickness) is a general sense of not feeling
well (malaise), nausea, vomiting, headache, and sweating that occur with
movement. It develops when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body
that detect motion send conflicting messages to the brain.
Motion sickness occurs when one part of the balance-sensing system
(inner ear, joints and muscles, or vision) may indicate that the body is
moving, while the other parts do not sense motion. For example, when a person
is in the cabin of a moving ship, the inner ear may sense the motion of big
waves, but the eyes don't see any movement. This leads to a conflict between
the senses and results in motion sickness.
Motion sickness is usually just a minor sense of queasiness and
does not feel like a serious medical illness. But some travelers are quite
sick with it. And a few even suffer symptoms for a few days after their trip.
After motion sickness has started, treatment consists of stopping the motion.
If the motion cannot be stopped, sitting or lying down in an area that appears
to move the least may help. In an airplane, sitting over the wings may feel
more stable; on a boat or ship, staying on the deck, looking at the horizon, or
sitting or lying down in a cabin near the center of the ship may help.
Prescription and nonprescription medicines may prevent and treat
symptoms. Some people find that taking ginger or wearing acupressure wristbands
can help reduce symptoms of motion sickness.
March 24, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
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