Perhaps you’ve been on a road trip where the shotgun seat is not only coveted, but a matter of life and death, because a couple members of the group are prone to motion sickness. If you are one of these people, you likely sympathize with the dread of inescapable nausea and dizziness that come with even just a short ride in the car, train, bus, plane (you get the idea). This can make travelling stressful for everyone in your group.
Unfortunately, motion sickness isn’t an uncommon ailment. According to one study, 1-in-3 people are highly susceptible to it.
Why Do Some People Get Motion Sick?
There’s limited understanding about the causes of motion sickness. Research by genetics firm 23andMe shows motion sickness may be just one genetic oddity.
23andMe conducted the first genome-wide association study on motion sickness, using 80,000 23andMe customers. This project produced some fascinating insights into the heredity of motion sickness.
According to their research, 70% of the risk for motion sickness is genetic. In fact, 35 different genetic variants are significantly linked to motion sickness.
Some of these variants are developmental. This includes development of the eye and ear. Other variants are associated with neurological processes, glucose levels, and insulin regulation. There were also some sex-specific effects. For example, motion sickness in women could be up to three times stronger.
The study also confirmed motion sickness is associated with other conditions. These include things like migraines, vertigo, and morning sickness.
The 23andMe researchers also found that there appear to be significant associations between motions sickness and lifestyle. Poor sleep patterns or headaches after drinking red wine increased could be connected to motion sickness. Handling stress well and a good sense of direction decreased the likelihood of motion sickness.
Researchers at Penn State came up with another set of findings. They decided to focus on how race affects motion sickness. They found 80% of Asians experienced it, while less than 50% of African-Americans and/or Caucasian-Americans were affected.
How Can I Avoid Motion Sickness?
This research provides foundation for finding better treatments, or even a cure, for motion sickness. This gives hope to those who experience anxiety and discomfort in travelling on a daily basis. But, many of these treatments are years away.
Here are some ways to lessen the effects of motion sickness today:
- Try To Prevent It– The best way to avoid motion sickness is to prevent it. It’s nearly impossible to avoid travelling in moving vehicles, especially during a big adventure. But, lessening the frequency and reducing the amount of time spent in a vehicle will help.
- Reduce The Symptoms– Medications like Dramamine or Transderm Scop can lessen the effects of motion sickness. Consult a health professional if you have any concerns before using these.
- Focus In The Right Place– Focus on a point, like the horizon, outside of the moving vehicle rather than on something that will be moving with you (like a book, phone, or tablet screen).
- Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes– These items can enhance any dizziness, nausea, or other sickness you feel while moving.
- Carefully Choose Your Seat– Make sure to choose a seat that will allow you to a good view of the horizon. Offer to drive when possible. The front seat is always a great option. While in the vehicle, keep your head and body as still as possible. Sit facing forward, with the seat slightly reclined.
- Increase Air Circulation– Roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh air. When unable to do so, sit in a place to feel the air conditioning on your face.
- Sleep– When all else fails, try to sleep along the way.