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Why Do You Get Motion Sickness?

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
David Tojo, M.D.

Have you ever wondered why you get motion sickness from reading in the car? Or why you feel nauseas from the swaying of the boat while others seem fine?

Let’s breakdown motion sickness:

Your balance system is in your ears. It can detect your body’s motions (e.g., moving side to side, up and down, and forwards and backwards). Your eyes monitor where your body is in space. This information needs to match the signals your balance system is telling your brain. When there is a mismatch of information, this creates nausea and discomfort.

For example, when reading in the car your balance system senses you are moving forwards (by the car), but your eyes are fixed on a non-moving object (book). One component says you are moving while the other says you are sitting still. This confusion results in motion sickness.

Mild symptoms can be treated by facing the direction you are moving and focusing your eyes on the moving field (i.e., look out the window in the car or at the horizon while on a boat). Also try getting fresh air and taking deep breathes. If the symptoms continue, try OTC anti-nausea 30-60 mins prior to your trip.

If your symptoms are severe or can’t be managed by the recommendations listed above, then schedule a consult with our ENT physician. With severe or unmanageable symptoms of motion sickness, you should get an examine to determine if anything else is increasing your risk of motion sickness. We can assess your balance system and ear functioning to identify any weaknesses. Call our office today to schedule your examine at 847-685-1000.

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