Behavioral methods of alleviating motion sickness: effectiveness of controlled breathing and a music audiotape

Author: Yen Pi//Sang FD//Billar JP//Golding JF////
MRC Spatial Disorientation Group, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Conference/Journal: J Travel Med
Date published: 2003
Other: Volume ID: 10 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 108-11 , Special Notes: Clinical Trial Controlled Clinical Trial , Word Count: 229

Behavioral countermeasures for motion sickness would be advantageous because of the side effects of antiemetic drugs, but few alternative treatments are available. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of controlling breathing and listening to a music audiotape designed to reduce motion sickness symptoms, on increasing tolerance to motion-induced nausea. METHOD: Twenty-four healthy subjects were exposed to nauseogenic Coriolis stimulation on a rotating turntable under three conditions: whilst focusing on controlling breathing; listening to a music audiotape; or without intervention (control). The three conditions were performed by each subject according to a replicated factorial design at 1-week intervals at the same time of day. Ratings of motion sickness were obtained every 30 seconds. Once a level of mild nausea was reached subjects commenced controlling breathing or listened to the music audiotape. Motion was stopped after the onset of moderate nausea. RESULTS: Mean (+/- SD) motion exposure time in minutes tolerated before the onset of moderate nausea was significantly longer (p <.01) for controlling breathing (10.7 +/- 5.6 min) and longer (p <.01) for music (10.4 +/- 5.6 min) compared with control (9.2 +/- 5.9 min). CONCLUSIONS: Both controlling breathing and the music audiotape provided significant protection against motion sickness and with similar effectiveness. These nonpharmacologic countermeasures are only half as effective as standard doses of anti-motion sickness drugs, such as oral scopolamine; however, they are easy to implement and free of side effects.