General Question

esayexohen's avatar

Does reading in the car make you feel sick?

Asked by esayexohen (60points) June 11th, 2008

I’ve always taken advantage of car trips being a great time to get some reading done. Lately I’ve been noticing that more people seem suprised that someone can read w/o getting sick than ppl are of those who don’t get sick. Which is more common?

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28 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

I only get sick if i dont look up for a while. Its because you see everything flying by out of the corner of your eyes but your staring at a page. So as long as i look up every couple of lines im fine, or if i have like something to use as a blinder so I cant see outside the car.

I always thought it would be cool to have like horse blinders for reading in the car.

Allie's avatar

I’m usually assigned the role of navigator on road trips because I’m one of the few out of my friends who can read (and understand) a map. So I can read a map and be fine, but if I try to read a book or a magazine I get carsick, unless I switch between reading and looking at the road or out the window.

Wine3213's avatar

It’s weird, because I’ve never gotten sea, car, or motion sick. When in the car, I can read, or mess with my iPhone. I know a lot of people who say they do though. It’s just never bothered me.

jlm11f's avatar

If i read in a car for even 5 min, i get a major headache (same as allie, maps are okay). it’s a shame, because i love reading and never have enough time for it :(. oh i also had motion sickness as a kid, its a lot better now.

elchoopanebre's avatar

Nope, I do it on road trips all the time.

Response moderated
Schenectandy's avatar

Reading in general makes me sick.

hearkat's avatar

I don’t know the percentage of the population that feels motion sickness; but as an Audiologist, I can explain what causes it.

Our brain determines our awareness of motion, orientation in space, and equilibrium by combining information from different parts of our body. The fluid in the labyrinth of the inner ear shifts when we move; our bones and muscles send information to the brain as they move or respond to changes by shifting our weight; and our eyes give us visual confirmation of what the other senses experience.

So when we ride in a car, the pull is is felt in our bodies and inner ears; but if our eyes are not confirming the motion, because focusing on a book prevents them from seeing the movement, the brain gets mixed signals and that triggers the nausea of motion sickness. For many people, vision is the dominant of those senses, so they are more likely to have this experience.

I don’t know if there is research to support it, but I have observed over the years that with our bodies, if you don’t use it, you lose it. When we are kids, we run around doing tumblesaults and cartwheels, swinging and flipping on monkey bars, riding bicycles and skateboards, going on amusement rides, swimming in the pool, etc. We put our still-developing vestibular senses through a lot, and they work efficiently (provided they are healthy).

As we get older, many of us become less active in our jobs and recreation activities. Our vestibular system encounters fewer challenges, and so it loses its ability to respond as effectively when we do challenge it. Those who remain more active for more years will be less likely to feel motion sickness. Of course, there are variances across the population, since our genetic strenghths and weaknesses and other medical conditions will make a diiference.

Personally, as I kid I would swing for hours, I loved sitting backwards on the train or in the station wagon… now if I try those things, I feel my stomach tighten-up. Not wanting to feel nauseous, I avoid those situations, so my system gets challenged less and less… which accelerates the downward spiral of the aging process.

Again, I can’t quote any supporting research. This is what I have observed from my own aging process and from working with the elderly with hearing and balance disorders.

wrestlemaniac's avatar

Not really, but then again sometimes i either sleep, play my PSP, listen to music or draw my story illustrations (i’m writing a fantasy/historic novel). i only get sick if i eat just before getting in the car, well not that sick that i throw up but bad enough that i feel whoozy.

hearkat's avatar

To test my theory, I’d appreciate if those responding here could add or include their age and an idea of how physically active they are, just out of curiosity. Thanks to those who do!

janbb's avatar

Age 57

What you said was interesting, hearkat. I used to somersault all the time when I was a kid, then hadn’t for many years. When I was in my 20s, I did one in an exercise class and nearly passed out from dizziness. Similarly, I used to read in cars all the time and now am afraid to (or don’t have to opportunity – usually driving or co-piloting.) I do exercise quite a bit – water aerobics and walking, but both are in an upright position. I can read on planes, trains and busses, so maybe I could in a car given the opportunity.

bridold's avatar

Oh my goodness, I got SO sick if I read in the car. Even if I only read a few billboards, I get nauseated. I hate it because it would pass time so much faster!

I also get sick when I play my DS in the car :(

mzgator's avatar

I can read in the car with no problem. I am 39. My husband is the same age and gets very sick if he tries to do anything but drive or ride in the front seat. He also can have problems flying. I work crosswords, play on my laptop, etc. with no problems yet. I have never been car sick or seasick. I hope I never do!

Melonking's avatar

Oh how did you know? ...... ARE YOU SPYING ON ME?

Foolaholic's avatar

yeah, reading in the car or on the boat always gives me a headache. It’s really annoying, because those are two of the times i can get the most reading done…

richardhenry's avatar

I’m 18, a guy, used to suffer severely from motion sickness in the car when reading, but could ride rollercoasters for literally hours. I’m now fine in the car if I glance out of the window every now and then.

marinelife's avatar

I get sick on cars, buses, boats, trains, in the water in swells, on amusement park rides, and in earthquake-proof buildings on rollers that sway in high winds.

I have always had motion sickness of all types from cildhood on. Unfortunately, my dad didn’t so he would tell me it as all in my head. When I asked him to stop the car so I could throw up, he would tell me not to think about it. Then when I threw up, he would get mad!

Reading is out of the question.

jlm11f's avatar

Like Richardhenry, my motion sickness did not extend to roller coasters. I had it as a child (so yes i was very active) and I did not HAVE to be reading to get the sickness (so how do you explain that? @ hearkat), though reading just aggravated it or made it worse. Currently I am 19, still fairly active, don’t really have motion sickness (except for planes) but still reading in a car can give me a major migraine and then nausea.

@ marina – for the longest time in my family, everyone thought i was “making up the headaches and nausea”. they said its all in my head and i just got eye rolls when i told them i feel sick. my brother thought i was being dramatic and wanted attention. I know its mean, but once for some reason, my brother got really sick in a bus and threw up and I couldn’t have been happier.

PS – i don’t know if this works for others, but one thing that does help my motion sickness is listening to music.

susanc's avatar

65, have always thrown up readily when in motion. Then I feel better and can continue.
This seems more stomach- than inner-ear-related. Also used to throw up readily when
emotionally overloaded.

St.George's avatar

I’m fine if I can’t see out the window at all while I’m reading.

shrubbery's avatar

I’m a 16 year old female who is usually quite active; I play a lot of sport. I do not get motion sickness and I can read novels and things with lots of text in the car quite fine. Which is good otherwise I would get very bored in the rowing season on the 3 hour trip we make to Lake Barrington for regattas every weekend. I haven’t tested it recently but I remember when I was younger I got car sick after reading picture books and puzzle books.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

solution: audiobooks

hearkat's avatar

@PnL: As I read your comment directed at me, I was going to ask if you get migraines… them you answered my question within the same post. A link between migraine sufferers and lifelong motion issues has been identified… so you are an exception to my theory because of that medical condition.

@RichardHenry: I am curious about the process involved with your experiences… typically on a rolloercoaster, we look ahead to see what is next and have a visual and mental preparedness for what we’re about to experience. Reading in the car, or even sitting in the back seat, or otherwise having our visual information reduced will give us less opportunity to anticipate what’s next. Our body’s other systems simply react as the motion happens, but with enough visual input and attention being paid on what is to come, we tend to feel less nauseous. That is why many people are fine when they are driving… because they are fully focused on the process of moving, since they are controlling it.

janbb's avatar

This true on a boat too. If you start to feel seasick on a sailboat you are often asked to take the helm. This also helps because you are looking straight ahead and less focussed on the up and down motion.

gooch's avatar

reading in th car gives me motion sickness

Sloane2024's avatar

I’m 16.
I’ve never been carsick or suffered from any type of motion sickness for that matter, lol. I read the last 2 Harry Potter books on a road trip, never once looking up; the only explanation I can infer is that I modeled when I was still “carseat age” and we drove ALOT. I love having this carsickness immunity…. It’s like a super-power or something… :)

girlofscience's avatar

I finally found a solution to this. (I used to get carsick from reading all the time.) The only way I can do it is if I lay down across the backseats and hold the book up so that I am simultaneously reading and seeing out the window that the car is moving. I believe motion sickness while reading is caused because of the disconnect between what your eyes perceive and what your body feels (your eyes see a steady book; your body feels like it’s moving). But if you see out the window at all times while you’re reading, the problem is solved!

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Sloane2024 Harry Potter was the only book I have ever been able to read in the car. I read all the time but Harry Potter was so absorbing that I guess I was far enough out of reality to get sick.

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