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Treatment of Motion Sickness

There are various ways you can describe this condition. Some people describe a balance problem by saying they feel dizzy, lightheaded, unsteady, or giddy. This feeling of imbalance or disequilibrium is sometimes caused by an inner ear problem. Others describe their balance problem by using the word vertigo, which comes from the Latin verb “to turn”. They often say that they or their surroundings are turning or spinning. Vertigo can also be triggered by problems in the inner ear.

To understand it, we must first understand root of this issue. Motion sickness is a common medical problem associated with travel. Some people experience nausea and even vomiting when riding in an airplane, automobile, boat, or amusement park ride. Motion sickness is usually just a minor annoyance and does not signify any serious medical illness, but some travelers are incapacitated by it. A few even suffer symptoms for a few days after the trip. Some people feel very sick while travelling in an airplane, boat, train, or car. They may feel queasy or nauseous or may vomit, and they may have a headache. This condition is called motion sickness. Children are more susceptible to motion sickness than adults. More than half of children experience motion sickness when travelling by car. Motion sickness is most commonly experienced when travelling by ship, with estimations that up to 100% of travelers experience “seasickness.”

Now we know what it means, we should move on to symptoms and occurrences. Motion sickness is rare in those under 2 years of age, but is most common between ages 3 and 12. Women experience motion sickness more than men. It also occurs more often in women during menstrual cycles and pregnancy. In motion sickness, a discrepancy exists between the motion that is expected to occur and the actual motion sensed by the organ of balance in the inner ear. These unexpected signals translate into a confused message by the brain, leading to the development of symptoms.

In considering treatment for motion sickness, the medical provider and the patient must understand that prevention is much more effective. There are several medications available to manage motion sickness. These medications are available in various forms, including oral tablets, rectal suppositories, and transdermal patches. Non-medicinal ways to reduce motion sickness include sitting where there is the least motion. For example, sitting over the seats adjacent to wings in airplanes or in the front seat of a car or in the central location of a boat can help. A semi-reclined position with the head braced is best. Reading should be avoided.

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