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Motion sickness

Balance does not have a specific location in the brain as occurs with sight, but is a system that requires coordinated and congruent information from the inner ear (vestibular system), eyes (visual system) and pressure receptors in joints, muscles and skin (proprioceptive system).

Motion sickness is a type of dizziness caused by travel in means of locomotion, car, bus, boat and has also been described in the airplane, but it is less frequent.

It is not a disease, but the physiological stimulation of the systems involved in the maintenance of balance (vestibular system, visual system and proprioceptive system), when the information that each one sends to the central nervous system is not congruent with each other.

Riding in a car, the inner ear is stimulated by the accelerations of the car, but being seated and still the proprioceptive system is not stimulated, here may appear this incongruence between the systems that make up the balance.

The driver, being attentive, perceives the accelerations and movements of the car that stimulate the inner ear and has to anticipate what is happening on the road, he does not get dizzy. On the other hand, a passenger who is reading, his visual information will not help him to keep his balance and will be incongruent with the vestibular system and there will be a conflict between the visual system and the balance system.

Symptoms: nausea, cold sweating and pallor; these are usually preceded by abdominal discomfort, pallor, yawning, salivation, general malaise and vomiting.

It is more common in children, but does not appear in children under 2 years of age because they do not use visual information for balance, and usually disappears after the age of 11-12 years.

Situations that can worsen motion sickness are travel on winding roads, acceleration and braking; starting a trip after a large meal, excessive visual stimulus, i.e., reading all the time or moving the head from one side to the other.

Tips when traveling by car for people who suffer from motion sickness:

  • Eat lightly before traveling, if necessary, otherwise avoid it and do not do it in the vehicle in motion.
  • On the boat and the airplane, place yourself in the areas with less movement, in the center of the plane as well as on the boat, and in the car, if possible, in the front seat.
  • Travel with your eyes on the direction of travel, look far away or through the window in the airplane.
  • Do not read or consult documents or maps in different moving vehicles.
  • Breathe fresh air, roll down windows or use air conditioning.
  • There are medications that can help, but they tend to cause drowsiness so you must be careful and they must be prescribed by your doctor, dimenhydrate (biodramine, cinfamar, normostop…), you must take it well in advance of the trip.