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Motion Sickness: Causes and Treatments

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Nursing
Wordcount: 1949 words Published: 30th Nov 2017

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Motion Sickness

  • Safa Al Khatib


Introduction –

Main Content –

Reasons that cause motion sickness –

Motion Sickness Symptoms –

Ways of avoiding motion sickness –

Treatment for Motion Sickness –

Medications for Motion Sickness –

Conclusion –


Introduction –

Motion sickness is also known as kinetosis. This sickness occurs when there is discrepancy between person’s mind perceiving a movement and signal that person’s sense of balance sends to mind. This is also some time referred to as travel sickness. It is considered as a condition in which disagreement exist amongst senses of vestibular system of the movement and the visually perceived movement.

In order to understand motion sickness, it is important to understand a few parts of the human body and how they affect the way a person feel the movement. The following are the important parts –

  1. Inner ears: Liquid in semi circular Inner ear is responsible for telling person if he/she is in motion. The motion may be upward, downward, side to side, round and round, forward, or backward.
  2. Eyes: Eyes are also part of human body that tells the person if he/she is in motion. It also tells person in which direction he/she is moving.
  3. Skin receptors: These receptors are responsible for informing person’s brain as to which parts of his/ her body are touching the floor.
  4. Muscles and joint sensory receptors: These receptors are responsible for informing person’s brain about the motion of muscles and position of body. (KH, 2011)

Main Content –

Motion sickness is like a puzzle. Motion sickness can occur from various types of sickness such as –

  1. Roller coasters sickness
  2. Car sickness
  3. Air sickness
  4. Sea sickness
  5. And other Complex type of movement which involve slow movement or movement in two different directions (such as upward and downward plus forward and backward).

When body is in any type of motion the brain receives signals immediately from different parts of a person’s body, which it tries to put together in order to get a total picture about what he/ she is doing at that particular moment. In case different parts of pictures, in form of signal that brain receives from different parts of body do not match, people suffer from motion sickness. There are no investigative tests that can determine motion sickness. It can only be determined from the typical symptoms that appear when person is travelling or is in any type of passive motion. (Marks, 2012)

Example of motion sickness –


Consider as case wherein person is travelling in a bus and reading book. Now, since person is sitting in moving bus his/her inner ear and skin receptors will sense forward motion. However, since persons eyes are focused on book which is stationary and also person is sitting so both eyes and muscle receptors informs brain that that there is no motion. As a result of these different signal received from different parts of body brain gets confused.

Reasons that cause motion sickness –

From above example it can be seen that cause of motion sickness is discrepancy in signals received from different parts of body. The inner ear and skin receptors tell person’s brain that person is moving while eyes and muscle receptors of person tells person’s brain that he/she is stationary. As a result of this inconsistency in signals received person’s brain comes to conclusion that he/she is hallucinating and that it is caused due to intake of poison or neurotoxin. The brain in order to drive poison or neurotoxin out of body will induce vomiting. (Mandal, 2014)


Motion Sickness Symptoms –

The following are the motion sickness symptoms –

  1. Nausea, Vomiting, and Dizziness are main signs of motion sickness.
  2. Increased salivation, Sweating, pale skin, and a feeling of uneasiness and not feeling fine are also some of the symptoms of motion sickness.
  3. Motion sickness’ severity may vary from person to person and even in same person on different days. In most of the cases signs of motion sickness go away after the motion comes to halt. However, there are cases in which people feels signs of motion sickness even after motion comes to halt. This feeling of motion sickness can last few days.

Studies have highlighted fact that some people are more likely to experience motion sickness as compared to others and they are –

  • Women are more likely to experience motion sickness in comparison to man and further pregnant women are more likely to experience motion sickness.
  • Motion sickness can also occur because of genes, so if a person have relatives who experience motion sickness, he/ she are more likely to struggle with it as well. Motion Sickness can mostly prevail among children around the age of 12 years. Infants and Children below the age of two years generally don’t experience motion sickness.
  • Motion sickness is common among people suffering from migraine headaches
  • (Marks, 2012)

(UoM, 2012)

Ways of avoiding motion sickness –

There are several ways in which motion sickness can be prevented. These are:

  • Putting face forward – It is suitable to always sit facing forward and avoids facing backward on the seat or sit in a seat that faces backward. This is because sitting in direction of in which motion is taking place helps in keeping the motion sensed by the person’s eyes and ears the same.
  • Get to the middle of things – In order to prevent motion sickness person should always try to sit in a place which experiences minimum amount of motion. For example if person is travelling through airplane he/she should try sitting near the middle of airplane instead of sitting at sides or front. Same is the case when travelling through ship.
  • Examine the great outdoors – In order to avoid sickness while travelling person should try to look outside. For example when sitting in car or airplane or ship person should see out of windows. This will enable eyes of person to send proper signal to brain that he/she is motion.
  • Avoid Smoking
  • Limit the intake of the alcohol (UoM, 2012)

Treatment for Motion Sickness –

Following are the options for treatment of motion sickness –

  • Physical therapy: In this therapy recurrent head movements and visual cues are used in order to generate the environment that induces motion sickness in person. In this way person’s brain is trained to get habituated to this type of motion. This training of person’s mind leads to decrease in motion sickness over time.
  • Some studies show that Manual pressure or pressure using a bracelet or wrist band can be effective for motion sickness. However, there are other studies don’t agree to this fact.
  • Lemon cure: Lemon is also used to reduce symptoms of motion sickness. Sucking on a lemon helps in avoiding excess salivation thereby preventing nausea.
  • There are studies which show that if person takes 1-2 grams of ginger before travelling, he /she may experience reduced symptoms of motion sickness. However, this impact of ginger is not because of suppression of sensory input but due to impact ginger on gastric mobility.

(Lackner, 2013)

Medications for Motion Sickness –

The following are the mediations for motion sickness –

  • Antiemetic (anti-nausea) medications are used to control nausea and vomiting after motion sickness have developed. Examples of medications are: Zofran and Compazine.
  • Antihistamine medications, such as Bonine, Aller-Chlor, Marezine, for children, and Dramamine are available for motion sickness.
  • Antidopaminergics medications, such as Pentazine and Reglan.
  • Scopolamine is also used. It is most commonly administered as a patch applied to the skin.

All these medication have some or the other side effects such as sleepiness, distorted vision, dry mouth, movement disorders and retention of urine in elderly people.

(UoM, 2012) (Tillman, 2014)

Conclusion –

From our study of Motion Sickness and its causes it can be seen that it is not any type of illness. Also it has no long standing complications. However, symptoms of motion sickness nausea and vomiting if last long can prove to be dangerous. It has been observed if symptoms such vomiting lasts long it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities, which may further lead to more severe problems such as fainting, low blood pressure, or irregular heart beat. Thus, motion sickness can be prevented if proper care and precautions are taken.


KH. (2011). What’s Motion Sickness? Retrieved April 19, 2014, from KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/motion_sickness.html

Lackner, J. R. (2013). Motion sickness. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://www.brandeis.edu/graybiel/publications/docs/190_ms_encns.pdf

Mandal, D. A. (2014, April 19). Causes of motion sickness. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from NEWS Medical: http://www.news-medical.net/health/Causes-of-motion-sickness.aspx

Marks, J. W. (2012). Motion Sickness. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://www.onhealth.com/motion_sickness/article.html

Tillman, L. (2014). Motion Sickness. Red Lemonade.

UoM. (2012). Motion sickness. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from University of Maryland: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/motion-sickness


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