Seasickness can take the pleasure out of many journeys, but British researchers think they may have found a cure for the unpleasant condition.
Dr. Qadeer Arshad, lead researcher and field expert from the at Imperial College London, the Department of Medicine, gave a statement to CBS News explaining that “We don’t know what currently causes motion sickness. It’s thought to be due to a conflict between what the eye perceives as motion and what the ears perceive as motion”.
So Dr. Arshad and his team set out to investigate whether or not they can apply a mild electrical current to the scalp in order to suppress a signal that the inner ear sends to the brain, and test to see if this has any chance of alleviating seasickness.
They started off by reproducing the symptoms in twenty (20) intrepid volunteers. They strapped them into motorized chairs that rotated and tilted to simulate the main motions that usually make people sick when they’re taking a boat ride or a roller coaster ride. Dr. Arshad said that this “can make you very sick, very quickly”.
All of the volunteers got sick and the researcher team asked them to wear caps with electrodes after they recovered. They split them in a few different groups, one of which received mild electrical current as a treatment. They were then asked to take a second ride in their chair.
Dr. Arshad revealed that the volunteers who received this treatment took a lot longer to start developing seasickness and also recovered from it a lot faster than they used to. This is because applying a mild electrical current to someone’s scalp can dampen responses which occur in a region of the brain that’s tasked with processing motion signals.
It turns out that the mild electrical current helps the brain make sense of the confusing inputs that it receives from the eyes and the ears, which in turn allows it to prevent seasickness.
The research team also mentioned that seasickness is a lot more common than people believe. In fact, around a third of people are faced with symptoms such as severe nausea and dizziness when they get on a boat ride. While certain meds (Scopolamine and Dimenhydrinate / Dramamine) can treat the condition, Dr. Arshad and his team inform that they often have drawbacks.
Professor Michael Gresty, study author and field expert from Imperial College, gave a statement of his own explaining that good seasickness treatments come in the shape of tablets that typically make people who take them drowsy.
That’s not a problem if you’re only taking a short journey or if you’re a simple passenger on the boat, but if you’re a worker on a cruise ship, you’ll still need to be able to carry out various job tasks.
The treatment that the research team has come up with is every bit as effective as the best meds on the market, except it appears to have no side effects.
However, there is one down side to the discovery – a practical application for the new treatment is far from being developed. Dr. Arshad believes that anti-seasickness devices will hit drugstores in about five (5) to 10 years.
The findings were published earlier this week, on Friday (September 4, 2015), in the journal Neurology.
Image Source: pixabay.com