Are you sending mixed signals? If you’ve ever suffered from a bout of car sickness on a road trip, you might be. However, maybe not in the way you think. But you can improve your car sickness through physical therapy!
When you feel carsick, you’ll generally experience nausea, dizziness, headaches, or maybe even vomiting. Falling ill on the road can make any car ride unenjoyable. To help relieve adverse side effects without relying on medications, you’ll first have to understand what’s causing your car sickness.
What Causes Car Sickness or Motion Sickness?
When you’re riding in a car, flying, or on a boat, motion sickness symptoms can occur. These are responses to a miscommunication between your inner ear and eye. Your vestibular system is responsible for your inner ear and eye connection that ensures what you feel is what you see. Many of us can relate to this scenario: You know when you’re riding in the back of a car reading or scrolling on your phone? Your eyes are signaling that you’re still, but when you look up and see the passing scenery, you realize you’re moving—AKA, mixed signals within the body.
Other factors may contribute to your motion sickness, as well, such as:
- Your gender. Estrogen levels, specifically in women, might be the culprit.
- Pre-existing conditions related to brain injuries, EDS, POTS and Dysautonomia.
- Pregnancy, in which dizziness is a common symptom.
- Susceptibility to chronic headaches and migraines.
- Side effects from various medications may cause nausea.
- After a stroke, concussion, or head injury. The critical difference is that motion sickness and its symptoms will stop after a few hours. Seek medical attention if your dizziness or motion sickness lasts several hours or longer.
How You Can Improve Your Car Sickness Through Physical Therapy
Whatever the reason you’re feeling queasy, the good news is, there are specialized physical therapy treatments and exercises to alleviate motion sickness. If you think your motion sickness is affecting your quality of life, working with a physical therapist is advisable.
A physical therapist can help you retrain your eye-ear connection to take control of your motion sickness symptoms through vestibular rehabilitation using a method called habituation. While habituation doesn’t occur overnight, the results are highly effective.
During habituation, you will perform vestibular exercises. This involves visual tracking, head movements, and positions when your eyes are closed. By this method, you can reduce dizziness and improve balance. The goal of habituation is to expose your body to small doses of the same stimuli that cause your symptoms. Short-term, it won’t feel great. But, over time, you’ll strengthen your eye-ear connection to minimize negative responses when placed in the situations that historically made you sick. Then you’ll be smooth sailing, so to speak.
To learn more about how a physical therapy program can help treat your car sickness, contact us today.
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