Travel sickness is a common acute feeling of sickness or nausea felt when travelling. While it can be debilitating for those going on holiday, there are treatments available.Find treatments Read more Learn how we work
Travel sickness, seasickness, carsickness, airsickness, simulation sickness and, more recently, VR sickness are all other terms for motion sickness. It is a common condition which is estimated to affect one third of the population when travelling.
Motion sickness occurs when perceived motion (sense of sight) contradicts the bodies physical motion (sense of balance), and vice versa. There are two main ways motion sickness can occur:
The inner ear contains a number of fluid filled semicircular canals - this is known as the vestibular system. When the fluid passes over small sensory hairs which line the canals, the cells bend and relay a signal to the brain that a physical motion has occurred. The brain then passes this message on to the eyes to confirm the motion.
However, if the vestibular (sense of balance) and visual (sense of sight) systems conflict, the chemoreceptor trigger zone (vomit centre) of the brain releases a histamine out of confusion and causes vomiting.
Depending on a person's sensitivity to motion, symptoms can vary.
The symptoms of travel sickness include:
There are a number of ways you can prevent travel sickness from occurring. Here are few of the most common ways:
Sit by a window so that you are able to perceive the direction you are travelling. Sitting in the front passenger or rear middle seat of a car can give you a view of the road, thus the perception of which direction you are moving. Site facing forward in the direction of movement and look towards the horizon while travelling.
While in a moving vehicle, avoid reading, watching films or using your phone or tablet. Consider audio only entertainment for your journey such as music, podcasts or audiobooks.
Avoid food which may affect your digestion. Try not to eat a large meal before travelling, as this can cause worse symptoms. Avoid spicy, acidic and greasy food before travelling. Alcohol should also be avoided before travelling. Keep hydrated throughout your journey by drinking plenty of water.
Whether you're travelling or experiencing VR, take regular breaks can prevent motion sickness.
Taking slow, deep, controlled breaths has shown to reduce nausea. This can also reduce the risk of hyperventilation.
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