Sickness in Motion


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I'm the type of person who cannot read anything while I'm inside a vehicle. The only mode of transportation I can even attempt to read in is an airplane, and only when it's up in the air and the movement can't be felt. This feeling of dizziness is known as Motion Sickness and is essentially a disturbance of the inner ear that is caused by repeated motion. I had an idea of what motion sickness entailed, but I've always wondered why it affects some people and not others. 

I've repeatedly looked for the answer to this question, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere in the internet. All I seem to find is definitions of the queasy feeling as well as the fact that it's caused by fluid in the middle ear. Ultimately while browsing through Yahoo answers, I saw someone who posted that it may be be caused by genetics. I decided to look into it more and found an  Article written by Emily Rowlands, a member of the PSU family. The article stated that according to Manda Williamson, former doctoral student in psychobiology at Penn State, the answer may be yes. A test was conducted by a another psychology professor from PSU, and apparently it may even differ between ethnicities. The study showed that  80 percent of Asians experienced motion sickness, while less than 50 percent of African-Americans and/or Caucasian-Americans were affected. Williams also found that if both parents were susceptible to motion sickness, their children were five times more likely to also have motion sickness. This experiment does show a significant difference according to ethnic backgrounds, however, the question of genes can't be proven without further research. 

3 Comments

I can't read anything in a moving vehicle either and my parents are the same way! I always wondered why I got so nauseous and I am very jealous of people that can read in a car. I wonder what they have that we don't?

I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one that suffers from this problem. I heard that it's caused by your eyes and brain becoming confused because our eyes are looking at a solitary object, like a book, while your body is in motion, both moving forward and bouncing with the bumps on the road. The reason you don't experience the problem on a plane is because there are not many bumps experience during a flight unless it hits turbulence or is taxi-ing.

I have a really weird twist on this problem. While I get headaches and nausea when I read, I seem to be just fine if I'M PLAYING VIDEO GAMES. I can't explain why this is, because one would think that adding the possibility of motion sickness would make the problem worse, but it doesn't seem to apply to me.

I have experienced this problem a couple of times myself and often wondered if there was any correlation with how sick one gets and the size of the text they are reading. I personally feel that if you read a book with a bigger font the headaches and nauseous feeling become less. What do you think?

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