Motion Sickness (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of motion sickness?

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The symptoms of motion sickness include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness (vertigo). Other common signs are sweating and a general feeling of discomfort and not feeling well (malaise).

Is there a difference between motion sickness and sea sickness?

There is no difference between motion sickness and sea sickness. Some people experience nausea and even vomiting when riding in an airplane, automobile, or amusement park ride. This condition is generally called motion sickness although terms such as airsickness and car sickness have been used by some people. Many people experience motion sickness when riding on a boat or ship. This is commonly referred to as sea sickness (mal de mer), even though it is the same disorder. They are one and the same phenomenon.

How does our sense of balance work?

Motion sickness relates to our sense of balance and equilibrium. Researchers in space and aeronautical medicine call this sense spatial orientation, because it tells the brain where the body is "in space," what direction it is pointing, what direction it is moving, and if it is turning or standing still.

Our sense of balance is regulated by a complex interaction of the following parts of the nervous system:

  1. The inner ear (also called the labyrinth) monitors the directions of motion, such as turning or forward-backward, side-to-side, and up-and- down motions.
  2. The eyes observe where the body is in space (for example, upside down, right side up, etc.) and also the directions of motion.
  3. Skin pressure receptors such as those located in the feet and buttocks sense what part of the body is down and touching the ground.
  4. Muscle and joint sensory receptors report what parts of the body are moving.
  5. The central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes all the bits of information from the four other systems to make some coordinated sense out of it all.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/16/2014

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