Biomedical Engineering Blog

Biomedical Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Previous in Blog: Adding Color to a Color Blind World   Next in Blog: Should You Hack Your EpiPen?
Close
Close
Close
10 comments

Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

Posted September 05, 2016 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

Recently I went on a dinner cruise for my papa’s birthday. It was a huge boat on Lake George and before we had even left the dock before I had even a sip of my first drink - I felt dizzy.

I am a victim of motion sickness.

I have been my whole life. Every car ride, every cruise, every ride at the amusement park puts me into a dizzy spell that leaves me nauseous and feeling terrible.

Researchers don’t know what makes one person more susceptible to motion sickness than another. It’s most common in children 5 – 12, older adults, and can affect people at varying levels of severity.

According to Dr. Dean Burnett, author of Idiot Brain, one common theory is that motion sickness occurs because the brain is confused that you are sitting down, but it’s receiving signals that you’re in motion. Image Credit

Common forms of human travel – walking and running – come with a specific set of neurological processes. Humans have adapted to the steady “thud” and pressure on their feet and lower legs as well as signals from muscles and movement in the body. The vestibular system, which includes balance sensors in the form of tiny fluid-filled tubes in our ears, controls balance and the relationship of our body in space. The fluid moves in response to acceleration and gravity. Vision is also an important process for motion- as we are walking or running, the world travels past our retinas at a steady state.

However, when you’re traveling by car, none of the usual signals of movement are present. Muscles are still, you’re sitting down, and the enclosed space limits your view. This results in sensory information that says “we are stationary”. But the fluid in your ears is travelling at high speeds and sloshes around more than usual telling the brain “we are really moving”.

For example, if you’re in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of the waves, but your eyes don’t see the movement. The conflict between the senses causes motion sickness.

From an evolutionary point, sensory mismatch must be caused by a neurotoxin or poison. What’s the first thing the body/brain does when it thinks it’s being poisoned? Get rid of the poison, aka throw up.

This isn’t the only theory on how or why motion sickness occurs. But it makes sense to me because I know what motions exacerbate the feeling for me.

So how do you avoid feeling motion sick? One suggestion is to move your head as little as possible and avoid alcohol or heavy meals before travel. I like to make sure I’m getting fresh air and focus on my breathing (most helpful during flights). I rarely take medication for motion sickness but I have tried acupressure wristbands. It could have been a placebo but it worked for 10 days’ worth of driving on the roads of Ireland.

Anyone else have tips or tricks to relieve or prevent motion sickness?

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5363
Good Answers: 646
#1

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/05/2016 6:29 AM

I sometimes suffer from motion induced dizziness. (I can't even watch people playing racing video games.)

I've found that eating ginger helps alleviate the sensation. I take ginger pills, drink ginger ale, and eat ginger snap cookies. I also take a daily dose of claritin supplemented sometimes with allegra or a decongestant if I think I need it.

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9050
Good Answers: 1031
#2

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/05/2016 8:17 AM

Go outside and look at the horizon. When what you see matches what your ear canals are telling you, it alleviates the problem. If you are inside and the ship is rocking, lean up against a bulkhead and ride with it instead of rocking back and forth to stay upright. These have helped me when I've had to work onboard ships.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Born, raised halfway 'round .....

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Speedway.....
Posts: 1130
Good Answers: 24
#3

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/05/2016 9:11 AM

Have you had your ears checked? Sometimes that vertigo feelings are caused by fluid buildup in the ears....

My wife has encountered similar situations..and claimed that when lying down on the bed somehow the spinning feeling either eases or gets worst depending on which side her head is rested?

Somehow wearing magnetic wrist bracelets or sticking a small round prescription patch behind her ears helps alleviate that problem while on a boat cruise!

__________________
vsar
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Etherville
Posts: 12334
Good Answers: 115
#4

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/06/2016 1:06 AM

I doubt that it would work for all, but 'spotting' seems to help. A niece used to suffer with motion sickness, but after a few months of telling her it was OK to upchuck she was fine. I've no idea, but suspect it's a case of finding the right way to get your head around it.

__________________
For sale - Signature space. Apply on self addressed postcard..
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Moses Lake, WA, USA, Thulcandra - The Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis)
Posts: 4216
Good Answers: 194
#5

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/06/2016 5:11 PM

Is it worse when you are a passenger and not driving?

__________________
"Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone." - Ayn Rand
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Louisville, OH
Posts: 1533
Good Answers: 29
#8
In reply to #5

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/07/2016 6:19 PM

It sure is!

I had an uncle who was in the Navy. His solution was to keep the stomach full.

I have motion sickness problems. Front seat in a car, not the back seat, helps. It helps me to be able to see out the front. A fresh air blast in the face helped when I was kid. Don't read in a car--that's almost instant problems.

__________________
Lehman57
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Moses Lake, WA, USA, Thulcandra - The Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis)
Posts: 4216
Good Answers: 194
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/08/2016 11:53 AM

I don't normally get motion sick, but it seems to me that if you are in control of a vehicle, you know how it will respond to your braking, accelerating, and turning.

Being able to know when these things will happen would make you more immune to the effects of motion sickness.

__________________
"Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone." - Ayn Rand
Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 14331
Good Answers: 161
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/08/2016 2:07 PM

How about (1) it is the vehicle you are completely used to - no motion sickness, then (2) job requires to drive a much larger pickup (3/4 ton crew cab) from one job site to another. - not motion sick, but slightly dizzy at the end of trip #1. Trips #2, #3, no motion sickness, dizziness, no symptom at all.

I believe this supports your hypothesis.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1550
Good Answers: 138
#6

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/07/2016 7:35 AM

My dad was in the Air Force but they were always transported by Navy ship (don't know why). He said that lemon drops and soda crackers where very effective. I haven't seen lemon drops in years. If I recall correctly they were round, about the diameter of a nickel and probably had real lemon juice in them. The theory was that the mild acid of the lemon drop switched the stomach into "control acid" mode. The soda crackers helped to absorb acid and the taste of the lemon helped to prevent any bad tastes from giving you a queezy feeling.

I don't know if they really work. So far the only thing that can get me sick is if I can't get away from (and upwind from) people that are suffering from motion sickness.

__________________
Few things limit our potential as much as knowing answers and setting aside questions.
Reply
Guru
Safety - Hazmat - New Member United States - US - Statue of Liberty - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - Old Hand

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 14331
Good Answers: 161
#7

Re: Motion Sick - A Mystery Solved

09/07/2016 4:00 PM

If it turns out that you have a middle ear or inner ear infection, due to long-term congestion, I think the Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor may try several things, one of which is a prednisolone cream in the ear. If that does nothing, they might want to advance to intra-aural injections of the same through the ear drum. I have experienced that ride first hand, and while the first treatment is like Chinese water torture, the second one is akin to having an injection of red hot magma through the ear drum, and you are not allowed to attempt clearance of eustachion tubes during the 30 minute wait. Then you are injected into the other ear if that one is affected as well.

I would caution you against this road I traveled unless the need is dire. Zyrtec is what I take now, and allergies and hearing issues due to congestion have essentially vanished.

__________________
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just build a better one.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 10 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

BruceFlorida (1); James Stewart (2); Kris (1); Lehman57 (1); Mikerho (2); Rixter (1); Usbport (1); vsar (1)

Previous in Blog: Adding Color to a Color Blind World   Next in Blog: Should You Hack Your EpiPen?

Advertisement