Although nearly 80 percent of the general population experiences motion sickness at one time in their lives, children between the ages of four and ten are most vulnerable. Children often out grow motion sickness. Toddlers under age two are rarely motion sick. Adults who frequently get migraine headaches are more likely than others to have recurrent episodes of motion sickness.
Researchers at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California, reported in 2003 that 70 percent of research subjects with severe motion sickness had abnormalities of the vestibular system. Research also suggests that some people inherit a predisposition to motion sickness. This predisposition is more marked in some ethnic groups than in others. One study published in 2002 found that persons of Chinese or Japanese ancestry are significantly more vulnerable to motion sickness than persons of British ancestry.
Causes and symptoms
While all of the body's sensory organs contribute to motion sickness, excess stimulation to the vestibular system within the inner ear (the body's balance center) has been shown to be one of the primary reasons for this condition. Balance problems (vertigo) are often caused by a conflict between what is seen and how the inner ear perceives it, leading to confusion in the brain. This confusion may result in higher heart rates, rapid breathing, nausea and sweating, along with dizziness and vomiting.
Additional factors that may contribute to the occurrence or severity of motion sickness include the following:
anxiety or fear (Both have been found to lower a person's threshold for experiencing motion sickness symptoms.)
food (A heavy meal of spicy and greasy foods before traveling is thought to increase motion sickness symptoms.)
Susceptibility in women to vomiting during pregnancy appears to be related
to motion sickness, although the precise connections are not well understood as
Often viewed as a minor annoyance, some travelers are temporarily immobilized by motion sickness, and a few continue to feel its effects for hours and even days after a trip.