Motion Sickness and Car Sickness

Motion sickness (car sickness) isn't any fun. Symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache, and sweating. Some people also experience visual effects, such as eye aches, double vision, and light sensitivity (photophobia). The eye and vision complaints are sometimes referred to as see-sick syndrome.

What Causes Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness is generally thought to be due to an imbalance between senses. The vestibular system (which is responsible for balance) tells the body it is in motion. The visual system, however, might tell the body that it appears stationary (think of reading in the car as an example). This sensory mismatch leads to the classic motion sickness symptoms.

Sometimes these same sensations occur if there is an issue with either system (vestibular or visual). Inner-ear disorders may cause a person to feel like they are in motion, even when stationary, and visual disorders such as convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, and strabismus, may prevent the eyes from properly relaying vision information to the brain.

How is Motion Sickness Diagnosed?

Motion sickness if often diagnosed by symptoms and patient history. An examination may include a general health examination, ear examination, and eye examination.

Ear and eye exams may include special testing, like rotation testing or vestibular reflex testing for the ear, and visual acuity, visual skills and tracking, and eye dilation for eyes.

Can You Treat Motion Sickness?

Sometimes motion sickness can be avoided by using a medication or even something as simple as avoidance of tasks that are known to cause motion sickness (like reading in the car, or sitting in a seat in the car that doesn't allow for a view of the outside surroundings).

Inner-ear issues and vision issues may need treatment by a specialist.

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