Motion Sickness - Causes and Remedies

Motion Sickness - Causes and Remedies

Motion sickness is a very common condition that is caused by any movement of its kind and can be mostly experienced when you are pregnant. Motion sickness is usually faced by people traveling via cars, trains, planes and even people riding on boats or ships. In fact, any kind of motion can trigger motion sickness including swinging on a cradle or novelty ride at a carnival.

The science behind motion sickness

To have a better understanding of the concept, it is imperative to understand how our body works to perceiving movements. The various parts of our body affect the movement.


Our eyes determines whether we are moving or not and in which direction.

Inner Ears

The semi-circular canals in our inner years consists of a fluid that allows us to sense motion and in what direction. The same inner years are also responsible for maintaining the sense of balance.

Joint sensory receptors and muscles

The joint sensory muscles have the responsibility to send signals to the brain and informing it if we are moving our muscles. Through this, our brain knows which position our body actually is.

Skin Pressure Receptors

These receptors detect the movements by sending signals to the brain informing it about our body’s contact with the ground.

Central Nervous System

The central nervous system which comprises of spinal cord and brain gets numerous signals from various parts of the body and paints together with a picture about the sensation our body might be feeling at the particular moment. When this information conflicts, motion sickness occurs.

What Happens When These Signal Conflict?

For instance, if you are on a moving bus or train reading a book, the inner ears along with the skin receptors send signals to the brain and tell it that you are moving forward. But since you are static, sitting in one place, the joint sensory receptors will then send signals to the brain telling him that you are not actually moving. 

This will be validated by the signal of the eyes that you are not actually moving as your book is stationary in front of you.

With different types of messages coming from the body, the brain gets confused about the on-going situation. This results in headache, dizziness, fatigue and nauseating. A person will likely vomit at this point but most of the times, it gives relief from nausea. But if you get more anxious with the situation, the symptoms might get worse.

Treatments available for motion sickness

Both prevention and minimizing the effect of motion sickness and can be done with or without medication. You may try following:

  • Sitting next to a window
  • Avoid reading while traveling
  • Avoid large meals or spicy foods before traveling
  • Chewing ginger or taking some ginger prepared drink
  • Over the counter medication can also be taken but in severe cases, prescribed medicine might be necessary

In most cases symptoms are not severe and go by their own. But if it gets worse with the time, consulting a physician is must.


1. Travelers' Health: Motion Sickness(2017,October 23). CDC read more
2. Motion Sickness(2017, August 14). MedlinePlus read more
3. Motion sickness(2017, August 31). NHS
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