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Science Explains Why You Get Dizzy In A Moving Vehicle

Understand the evil that is motion sickness
by Tanya Umali | Sep 25, 2016
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Are you one of the few people who hate riding a car? Does a short (or long, depending on how hellish EDSA traffic is) cab/bus/UV Express ride from Megamall to Cubao make you lightheaded and unstable?

Much as you want to blame it on the driver or your co-passenger's smell, your dizziness is actually common. As science simply puts it, the brain thinks it's being poisoned when you're inside the moving vehicle.

Dr. Dean Burnett of Cardiff University explains in his book, Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To, that our brain often feels confused having to deal with all the things that happen simultaneously to your body while you're in transit.

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Even though you're just sitting still inside a moving vehicle, the balance sensors in your ears which contain fluids, keep on moving around indicating that you are in motion.

"In evolutionary terms, the only thing that can cause a sensory mismatch like that is a neurotoxin or poison," Dr. Burnett said in an interview.

It gets worse when you're reading or staring into a motionless object, say for example your cellphone. Because the letters on a message or an article you're reading look stiff and stationary, your brain gets the idea that you're not supposed to be moving.


When it realizes that you are in fact in motion, it becomes alarmed, believing that poison has entered into your system. The result? You throw up, of course. Thank goodness for barf bags!

Scientists are still unsure why not everyone experiences car sickness or motion sickness.

If you're one of those who do, however, Dr. Burnett suggests you make it a habit to stare outside so that your eyes can see the movement that your balance sensors feel. You can also listen to music or roll down the window to get a breath of fresh air.

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These might just save you from telling the driver to pull over just to throw up. 


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