Let's talk aboutMotion Sickness & Genetics

Does riding on a windy road or going on a sunset sail make you queasy? It turns out some people may be more predisposed to motion sickness than others.

How it works

To maintain your balance, your brain relies on signals from multiple sources: your eyes, your muscles and joints, and the vestibular system in your inner ear. Most scientists think that motion sickness occurs due to “sensory conflict” — when your vestibular system and muscles tell your brain that you’re moving but your eyes send the opposite signal. Those mixed signals cause some people to feel dizzy and nauseous.

The genetic link

23andMe scientists identified 413 genetic markers associated with motion sickness. More than 480,000 23andMe consented research participants of European descent contributed their genetic data and survey responses on motion sickness for these findings. In addition to genetics, other factors like age, sex, and ancestry can also influence your chances of experiencing motion sickness.

person with motion sickness

Did you know?

Motion sickness has been found to be associated with migraines, vertigo and morning sickness.

Explore more

23andMe can give you a closer look at some of the genetic variants that influence motion sickness. Try one of our services, such as our Health + Ancestry Service, to find out whether you’re more likely to experience motion sickness based on your genetics and other factors.

Health + Ancestry Service Kit

Health + Ancestry Service

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Furlotte NA et al. (2015). “23andMe White Paper 23-12: Estimating complex phenotype prevalence using predictive models.” 23andMe White Paper 23-12.

Hromatka BS et al. (2015). “Genetic variants associated with motion sickness point to roles for inner ear development, neurological processes and glucose homeostasis.” Hum Mol Genet. 24(9):2700-8.