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Triggers of Motion Sickness in Migraine Sufferers

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Objective.—To determine whether susceptibility to motion sickness provoked by unexpected movement is associated with susceptibility to visually induced motion sickness in migraine sufferers.

Background.—Migraine sufferers are unusually susceptible to motion sickness, but the mechanism of this susceptibility is not well understood. Possibilities include vestibular dysfunction secondary to vasomotor disturbances during migraine attacks, hyperexcitability of brainstem circuits that produce symptoms of motion sickness and migraine, and heightened susceptibility to visual illusions of movement.

Method.—A motion sickness susceptibility questionnaire that listed common triggers of motion sickness was filled out by 42 migraine sufferers and 39 headache-free controls of similar age and sex distribution to migraine sufferers.

Results.—A greater proportion of migraine sufferers than controls reported that traveling in cars and buses, reading in the car, using playground equipment, watching wide-screen movies and movement simulators, induced motion sickness. However, visually induced motion sickness appeared to be independent of motion sickness to most movement-related stimuli in migraine sufferers.

Conclusions.—The lack of association between susceptibility to movement-induced and visually induced motion sickness implies that more than one mechanism increases susceptibility to motion sickness in migraine sufferers.

(Headache 2005;45:653-656)
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Keywords: migraine; motion sickness; movement simulation; optokinetic stimulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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