Motion sickness potentiates core cooling during immersion in humans

I B Mekjavic, M J Tipton, M Gennser, O Eiken
Journal of Physiology 2001 September 1, 535: 619-23
1. The present study tested the hypothesis that motion sickness affects thermoregulatory responses to cooling in humans. 2. Ten healthy male volunteers underwent three separate head-out immersions in 28 degrees C water after different preparatory procedures. In the 'control' procedure immersion was preceded by a rest period. In the 'motion sickness' procedure immersion was preceded by provocation of motion sickness in a human centrifuge. This comprised rapid and repeated alterations of the gravitational (G-) stress in the head-to-foot direction, plus a standardized regimen of head movements at increased G-stress. In the 'G-control' procedure, the subjects were exposed to similar G-stress, but without the motion sickness provocation. 3. During immersion mean skin temperature, rectal temperature, the difference in temperature between the forearm and 3rd digit of the right hand (DeltaT(forearm-fingertip)), oxygen uptake and heart rate were recorded. Subjects provided ratings of temperature perception, thermal comfort and level of motion sickness discomfort at regular intervals. 4. No differences were observed in any of the variables between control and G-control procedures. In the motion sickness procedure, the DeltaT(forearm-fingertip) response was significantly attenuated, indicating a blunted vasoconstrictor response, and rectal temperature decreased at a faster rate. No other differences were observed. 5. Motion sickness attenuates the vasoconstrictor response to skin and core cooling, thereby enhancing heat loss and the magnitude of the fall in deep body temperature. Motion sickness may predispose individuals to hypothermia, and have significant implications for survival time in maritime accidents.

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