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What is Motion Sickness?Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness, or sickness, is all caused problems in some subjects with a trip by boat, car, train, plane. Also called neuropathy, this is a frequent affection that affects more than 3 million people in France. One in three people develop symptoms of motion sickness at least once in their life.

Motion sickness is a series of disorders that occur while traveling by car, boat, plane, train, or other vehicles. Often causes nausea, sometimes vomiting, discomfort, cold sweats, dizziness, or even headaches.

Motion sickness: what are the symptoms?

Motion sickness is widespread in cars, trains, planes, or boats, especially in children 2 to 12 years old. Women also suffer more (to a lesser extent). Finally, people with a history of migraines are a contributing factor.
Newborns and the elderly are less often affected by motion sickness. Women and children are more sensitive than men.

Means of transport causing motion sickness

In motor vehicles, the incidence of motion sickness is variable: in the car, it is 3 to 5%, it seems higher in children;
In-flight, the incidence would be 0.5% to 10% on long and medium-haul aircraft. The rate is higher in gliders, business jets, and military aircraft. 6 to 20% of student pilots in the Air Force are affected during their training, and 2 to 3% never adapt;
Transport on horseback does not cause motion sickness, while disorders appear on the back of a camel or an elephant.
Space sickness affects 50 to 60% of astronauts. Therefore, the use of antinaupathiques in this type of mission is systematic.

Space sickness is very troublesome in short space missions, as provided for in the American shuttle program. Nothing makes it possible to predict its occurrence in a given subject (no possibility of screening on the ground, in average weight), and it lasts three or four days. As the missions last between six and eight days, it is essential to control the phenomenon if they are operational.

Many animal species share motion sickness with humans: horses, cows, certain primates, dogs, and cats.

Mechanisms of motion sickness

Motion sickness is due to unusual stimulation of the vestibular apparatus. Under normal physiological conditions, the labyrinths (or vestibules: proprioceptive organs of the ear) inform the individual about his position in space and the movements he performs there.

Land, sea, and air transport in busy environments creates intense stimulation of labyrinthine nerve endings. These strongly stimulated transmit to the vestibular nuclei (near the center of vomiting) and other higher nervous centers (cerebellum, reticulate formation) a series of unusual or even contradictory impulses, thus leading to balance disorders and manifestations associated.

However, labyrinths do not explain all of the motion sicknesses. Balance is a complex function also provided by the vision and proprioceptive information emanating from the muscles, tendons, and deep layers of the skin.

The neuropathy would also be due to the brain’s difficulty or inability to integrate the contradictory information from the various organs, ensuring the balance in average time.

Additional psychological and environmental factors are also involved:

Motion sickness: causes, symptoms, and treatments

The odors (tobacco, food, oil );

The heat ;

The containment ;

The aggressive noises promote or intensify symptoms of it.

It also often occurs against a background of anxiety (the fear of being sick), which contributes to the onset of malaise, aggravating the state of anxiety. Thus, there is a creation of a vicious circle.

How does motion sickness manifest itself?

The frank symptom takes place in three phases :

The first is that of simple discomfort characterized by a feeling of unease. At this stage, the physical signs are paleness of the face, drowsiness with belching and yawning;

During the second phase, uncontrollable nausea and vomiting occur. It accompanies by hypothermia with reduced cutaneous blood flow, tachycardia with increased pulmonary ventilation, salivation, mydriasis (dilation of the pupil);

The third stage of motion sickness is not found in all people during the ordinary course of motion sickness, but it can also appear immediately in some cases. It characterizes by the worsening of all symptoms that can lead to a syncopal state. We often observe an intense obsession with the total loss of all will and all defensive reactions. The patient is prone, closed in on himself with one focus: his discomfort. Sudden loss of consciousness due to hypoglycemia or hypotension is not uncommon.

The syndrome is often more attenuated. It comes down to feelings of empty head, migraine, with loss of the ability to pay attention and concentration. As a result, the patient has drowsiness and isolation.

Behavioral disorders are associated and have been studied by and for the military:

1.Decreased muscle coordination of the eye and hand;

2.The ability to estimate time;

3.From the pressure of the arrows;

4.Spontaneity;

5.Intellectual performance (mental arithmetic);

And a need for isolation.

Tips to reduce motion sickness

Small tips are helpful:

Lie down, when possible, to minimize the movements that are the cause of the discomfort (too sudden head movements);

Look at the horizon and keep your head fixed;

Choose a seat where movement is felt the least: at the front of the car, in the middle of the boat, to the central wing of the plane.

Do not travel on an empty stomach but avoid alcohol and fatty foods ;

Drink sweet from time to time during the trip;

As much as possible, try not to think about the discomfort ;

Avoid confined atmospheres but do not be cold;

Do not read, smoke, or play games on screens; it promotes motion sickness;

How to prevent motion sickness?

1.Get plenty of sleep before the trip: lack of sleep increases symptoms

2. Eat light: if you are prone to motion sickness, it is recommended not to be hungry before a trip;

3. Stay calm: stress increases motion sickness, so relax by breathing calmly and deeply;

4.  Look towards the horizon or outside the vehicle: reading or playing games on the screen promotes it.

5. Limit the sensation of movement: Get comfortable and keep your head steady using a headrest or cushion, if possible.

6. Take in fresh air regularly: go out on the deck, open the car windows, or position the ventilation towards your face in an airplane.

Learn the biofeedback techniques: the attempt to voluntarily control vegetative body modifications induced by motion sickness (preparation for American space flight).
In general, motion sickness subsides with the frequency of travel or after two to three days in the event of prolonged travel.

Drug treatments

All motion sickness medications give as a preventative measure before the onset of symptoms. Several drugs use.

The metopimazine (Vogalib), counter pharmacy sales, limits vomiting.

The antihistamines in preventing naupathies are also effective:

Diphenhydrate or Nautamine ;

Dimenhydrinate (Nausicalm) .

Scopolamine is a parasympatholytic.

It administeres via the skin (Scopoderm TTS). It is a small adhesive disc that is placed 6 to 12 hours before departure behind the ear and gives good protection against seasickness.

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