Don's Home Travel Motion Sickness Contact
 
Frequency: From one third to one half of airline passengers will experience some degree of motion sickness when encountering heavy turbulance on airplanes.
Up to 100% of ship passengers become seasick under rough conditions.

Symptoms: Dizziness, fatigue, and nausea which may progress to vomiting. They may be preceded by yawning, hyperventilation, salivation, pallor, profuse cold sweating, and somnolence.

Causes: The body is subjected to accelerations of movement in different directions or under conditions where visual contact with the actual outside horizon is lost. The balance center of the inner ear then sends information to the brain that conflicts with the visual clues of apparently standing still in the interior cabin of a ship or airplane. Video games, flight simulators, and looking through a microscope also can cause motion sickness.

A roll rate of 5 sec. is most likely to cause motion sickness. The incidence of motion sickness falls quite rapidly at higher frequencies. Recent ingestion of food, particularly dairy products and foods high in sodium, protein, or calories, has been associated with increased susceptibility.
A high level of aerobic conditioning further increases susceptibility, perhaps by increasing parasympathetic tone.

Adaptation to the sensory conflict is variable, and motion sickness tends to subside after 36 to 72 hours of continuous exposure.

Prevention:

  • It's best to try to prevent motion sickness, because symptoms are hard to stop once they start.
  • Find areas with less motion. (eg, in the middle of a ship close to water level, over the wings in airplanes)
  • Avoid visual stimuli (eg, reading, watching videos)
  • Avoid strong odors and spicy or greasy foods immediately before and during your travel.
  • Over the counter medications Dramamine®, Bonine®, Marezine® can be very effective for short trips or when symptoms occurr intermittently.
  • Transderm-Scop comes in the form of a patch can be worn behind the ear for up to three days at a time.
  • Side-effects of these medications usually consist of sedation and dry mouth and they should not be taken by people who have glaucoma or urinary obstruction.
  • Recent studies have shown that Ginger root may be as effective as the other drug treatments but is associated with fewer side effects. It is given in candied form, powdered in capsules, or as a tea infusion.
  • Sit in front seat of car.
  • Breath fresh air.
  • Alternative methods of preventing motion sickness, such as taking powdered ginger capsules or wearing acupressure wristbands (elastic bands with small bumps you align over strategic pressure points [P6 acupuncture point] on the wrist) might offer some relief; however, there is little evidence that they prevent motion sickness.
    One trial found that continuous vigorous manual stimulation of the P6 point was required to achieve a significant benefit.
Treatment:
  • Faced forward and looking outside a ship or plane at a 45° angle above the horizion.
  • Lie down on your back.
  • If vomiting is prolonged, IV fluids and electrolytes may be required for replacement and maintenance.

See Also:

Article at HealthLink
Merck Manual
CDC
WebMD
PostGradMed

last updated 19 Dec 2004