The movement of the fluids in the canals of the inner ear plays an important role in your sense of balance, helping your brain to understand where you are in relation to objects and places around you, and how fast you’re moving. Under normal circumstances, this information is confirmed by visual cues and your sense of kinaesthesia (the sense that allows you to intuitively know where your muscles and limbs are at all times).
However, when you’re in a moving vehicle, these information sources deliver conflicting information to the brain, with the fluids of the ear sensing the movement of the vehicle, but your eyes and muscles perceiving your body to be still .
As this is a natural physiological response to movement, a certain degree of motion sickness is natural and normal. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old are particularly susceptible, but most people ‘grow out of’ the motion sickness induced by car travel as they grow older.
In the majority of cases of motion sickness, the symptoms recede after short journeys are completed. On longer journeys (such as an ocean cruise), the body and brain adapt to the movement over time, and symptoms eventually vanish.
In some sufferers, anxiety and stress about being sick on an impending journey may exacerbate the symptoms, and can even cause them to start before travelling has started.