Feeling Woozy, Motion Sickness Redux

We’re feeling a little dizzy trying to keep track of all the coverage 23andMe’s new study on motion sickness received or it might just be this infographic.

The paper, which came out in late January, was the first ever genome-wide association study of the very common condition.

We want to share with you some of the better stories, including coverage in Fast Company, the Atlantic and Time. We also wanted to share some of the findings in the study using this fun infographic.

In the study, 23andMe researchers found 35 genetic variants that were significantly associated with motion sickness. Some of those variants, which were identified for the first time, are in or near genes involved in the development of the eye and ear, while other variants appear to be involved in neurological processes and the regulation of glucose and insulin.

The work also confirmed previously known phenotypic associations between motion sickness and other conditions such as migraines, vertigo, and morning sickness as well as postoperative nausea and vomiting.

Note: this post has been altered from the original; the accompanying graphic has been removed, along with select text.






  • mhurley1234

    I urge 23andme to look into BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) to see if it might be genetic. It’s quite common, gets worse with age, and disabling.

    • desperatehw55

      I find it so interesting that you bring up BPPV. I did not know what this was until very recently when someone close to me had a bout of it. Thereafter I discovered several more friends who suffer from it. In a couple cases their physicians didn’t know what it was for a long time! I, too, would like to see 23andMe use their resources in this way.

  • Einelorelei

    I have Meniere’s disease. It’s bloody awful to have.

    • diogenes

      I have Meniere’s. It is kind of like saying ‘I get migraines’ as so many people find relief different ways. My vertigo was triggered by gluten, oatmeal, ragweed pollen, and cedar pollen. I haven’t had an episode since going on HRT (both estrogen and progesterone creams). Don’t know what is cause and effect but perhsps it gives you a new avenue to investigate. Horrible disease.

  • lhb110l

    I’ve had BPPV, it’s a nightmare

    • Debra Straka

      How did you resolve it? I had never heard of this until last April, when I woke in the night thinking I was falling in space. I couldn’t even get up to walk. It took a couple of days to lessen, but I still have mild vertigo if I put my head back too far or turn too quickly?

  • Skeptic

    Promethease analysis of my 23andMe raw data tells me I am at low risk for PONV. Yet every time I’ve had anesthesia, I have been wretchedly nausated for hours afterwards. I’m also an oceanographer and blue water sailor who gets quite seasick every time I go to sea, until I adapt. As a child I tended to get car sick and air sick. My maternal GM had Meniere’s Disease. It stands to reason these traits are governed by more than the single SNP Promethease appeared to look at.

    • Bruce Powell

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that there is a single factor, especially when anaesthesia is involved. The analgesics, the type of surgery and the nature of the illness will also have a profound effect.

    • Kathy Mahoney Patterson

      Just ask for anti nausea medication in your IV when you have anesthesia. It works like a charm!

      • Shannon L. Mcrandle

        Yep. Anesthesia and pain meds make everyone sick. I don’t get nauseous over anything. I’ve had a lot of surfery and cancer. Any competant dr will offer you nausea meds before and after surgery. For sea sickness, I’d recommend zofran and a little benadryl. All gone.

  • ker080

    you should change the font on the graphic, no reason to have the double pink/green combo; and as offset as it is, it makes me motion sick just trying to read it

    • Lindsey Lee Hiltibidal

      I thought the same thing!

  • Lisa G

    BPPV has an effective treatment and patients can be taught to do the particle repositioning exercises at home. I’m an audiologist who sees mostly dizzy patients. It is easy to fault primary care physicians for not knowing anything about BPPV…many still don’t. It is an area primarily diagnosed and treated by ENT physicians and audiologists. I’ve practiced audiology for almost 40 years, and 30-40 years ago I would tell patients “you have positional vertigo; it comes and goes; unfortunately we don’t have a treatment for it.” 20 years ago, with better imaging techniques researchers could see the otolithic debris falling into the posterior semi-circular canal. And a treatment came out of that discover. The treatment is effective and each time BPPV returns my patients know what to do at home to treat it. If you have this condition find a practitioner skilled in BPPV treatment; don’t just “live with it.”

  • Melissa Pilar

    I’ve got both from lower and higher risk, and I’ve had motion sickness since I was tiny, all through all these decades.

  • JoeAld

    I Don’t have a problem with motion sickness or nausea after surgery. I do go off shore fishing and have noticed that about 1/3 of the people that go with me have a problem. It was interesting to see 23andMe confirm my observation.

  • M. Carnell

    I do not get car sick, but do get sea sick and cannot spend much time scanning microfilm. I answered the questions as best I could, but don’t think my answers would indicate that I d o get motion sickness, even though I do in some circumstances.

  • Myk

    The migraine link would make sense for me. My migraines are often triggered by visuals.

  • IrishForEver

    What B vitamin supplement did you take? I have a friend who’s having real balance issues brought on by sudden movement.

  • Eugene Watson

    sea sickness, I can get the juices flowing in my gut on sea sickness just thinking about it; no waterbed for this guy.

  • Lucy_Swiffer

    The only time I ever got motion sickness was when I was a kid and I sat in that backward-facing seat in the back of the station wagon! LOL And I’m thankful – that was miserable.

  • Annie Roth

    Where’s the infographic?

    • 23blog

      Hi Annie,
      We actually had to remove it because some readers complained that it made them feel nauseated.

  • Lazer

    After several surgeries, I realized the common denominator in my extreme nausea issue was Morphine – since I am know tagger for being allergic to it, I have not been sick at all. They just use other medications.

  • Shannon L. Mcrandle

    You may have build up of wax in your ears or even a tiny growth in your inner ear. Sometimes a physical therapist can do adjustments that help.

  • Janet Seeley

    I have had motion sickness ever since I can remember, and nothing works stop it…and I’ve tried them all, from over the counter to prescriptions. My children and grandchildren all have varying degrees of motion sickness also. Traveling together is always an adventure since we all need the front seat! Cruises, roller coasters, and lots of other activities I would love aren’t any fun when you are green and barfing. I know mine is related to my vision, because I can get sick watching movies in the round, and if I close my eyes I am fine.

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