Getting car sick is a type of motion sickness. Motion sickness is when being in something moving, like a car, makes you feel not well.
People can also get motion sickness on a boat or a plane or even on a roller coaster. If you get motion sickness you might feel nauseous like you are about to throw up. You might also feel dizzy, sweaty, headache-y, tired and generally pretty crummy. One weird thing about motion sickness is that some people get it and some people don’t.
Kids tend to get motion sickness more than adults, so if you have it now, you might not have it when you are older or at least it might not be as bad. But in the meantime, there are some ways to help yourself feel a little better. It all has to do with what causes motion sickness in the first place.
Think about what is happening when you are riding in a car. You are sitting still because you are inside a car, but the car is moving. So you are also moving. And that can get your brain kind of mixed up.
Your eyes tell your brain that you are sitting still inside the car, you are buckled in and you are definitely not running or even walking. So based on what your eyes are seeing, your brain thinks you are sitting still. But in the meantime, your ears are telling your brain something totally different. And I do not mean because of what you are hearing because your ears, do more than you just hear.
Your inner ear, a tiny but very important part of your body deep inside your ear keeps track of how your body moves around. And it can tell when you are moving.
Way inside your ear, there are three little tubes, and inside each tube, there is a little bit of liquid and tiny little hairs. And when you move, so do the liquid and hair.
You can imagine the liquid in you ear to be like a glass filled with water. When you tilt the glass to the side, the water tilts too. If you tilt your head, the same thing happens to the liquid inside your ear, which is how the brain knows that you moved your head.
Now quickly slide the glass across the table. As you rapidly slide the glass forward, the water sloshes to one side of the glass. So when you are in a car that moves forward, the same thing happens to the liquid in your ears. So that’s how your ears know that you are moving, even though you are sitting still in the car. If you get motion sickness, that is because your brain does not like getting those different messages. And that is why you might feel a little dizzy and nauseous and overall totally yucky.
In a moving car, our eyes see that the car seats are not moving. Thus informing our brain that we are stationary. However, the inner ear that detects motion notices the turns and bumps in the road and tells our brain that we are moving. This creates a sensory mismatch and makes us car sick.
Scientists still aren’t quite sure why getting those different signals make you feel dizzy. But some scientists think it is because your brain thinks that all those weird, mixed signals are being caused by something that made you sick, like poison. So your brain tells your body to throw up to get the poison out. Even though there really isn’t any poison at all.
If you get car sick, there are some things that you can do to feel better.
First, you can eat a light meal before going on a trip – not too much and not too little. Basically you want to keep your stomach healthy, so you aren’t encouraging nausea. Then, once you are in the car, looking out the window can help a lot.
Scientists say to look at the horizon, which is the line where the sky meets the land or the road. That way your eyes can tell exactly how you are moving compared to the world around you.
If both your eyes and your inner ears agree that you are moving, there are no more confusing messages which means that hopefully you will feel better. For the same reason it is better not to read a book or play games on the tablet or on a phone while you are in the car.
If you are staring at something right in front of you inside the car, that makes it look like you are staying still, which can make you feel worse. Looking out the windows can be way more interesting anyways. You can look at the trees, the sky, the road signs and the other cars zooming by.
It can also be really relaxing which is awesome because staying calm and relaxed can help you avoid motion sickness.