What’s Behind ‘Cloverfield’ Illness?
Wave of Nausea Hits Moviegoers
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 24, 2008 -- Scan the news and blogs and not only do you see that
Cloverfield had a record-breaking opening weekend, but there was an
unforeseen side effect: nausea. And it didn't come from the popcorn, or the
writing -- but the camerawork.
In Cloverfield, a giant monster attacks Manhattan. The problem -- at
least for those prone to motion sickness -- is that it's all filmed through a
very jerky handheld camera.
This had led to reports of nausea
and vomiting in theaters across the country. One theater chain has even taken
pre-emptive action. AMC Theaters has placed caution signs in hundreds of its
theaters around the country warning about possible motion sickness, according
to the Los Angeles Times.
"I saw it this weekend and was so sick to my stomach that I had to leave
the theater," says Sara Butler, a WebMD programming manager. "I have a
friend who's an EMT in New Jersey, and she was called to several theaters this
weekend to deal with people who were sick."
While motion sickness is usually caused by plane, boat, or car movement,
bumpy camerawork could definitely do it, too.
Cloverfield make you queasy? What other movies have you seen that affected
your senses this way? Talk about it on the Health Cafe board.)
What Causes Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages from the
inner ear, the eyes, and other parts of the body.
While watching Cloverfield, viewers were sitting still in their
seats, so their inner ear was telling their body they were motionless. But the
bumpy camera movements -- and their eyes -- misled them into thinking they were
moving around erratically.
These conflicting messages to the brain lead to symptoms of motion sickness, most notably nausea. Other
symptoms include vomiting, headache, and sweating.
What Is the Treatment for Motion Sickness?
Obviously, the best treatment is to avoid situations that make you sick. But
if that's not possible, there are a few things you can try. Also, if you're
prone to motion sickness, remember that prevention is best because once
symptoms start, relief is tough to find until motion stops.
- If you love cruising but it doesn't love you, choose a center cabin where
there is less movement.
- On a boat or ship, stay on the deck and look at the horizon.
- In an airplane, sit near the wings.
- In a car, sit in the front seat and look through the window. Don't read or
focus on an object inside the car.
- Drive, don't ride. Drivers are less prone to motion sickness.
Motion Sickness Medications
Medications can be used to
suppress the conflicting brain messages. No matter which type of medication you
choose, it works best if taken before motion.
- Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Antivert, and
Dramamine, can prevent motion sickness. The main side effect is sedation.
Newer, nonsedating antihistamines, such as Claritin, do not work for
- Scopolamine is most commonly used as a patch that's applied every 72
hours. The main side effect is also sedation. For many people, scopolamine
appears to be the most effective treatment and may cause less sedation than
- Phenergan relieves
nausea and is used to prevent and treat motion sickness.
- Caffeine has been shown to help relieve motion sickness when
combined with Phenergan.
Alternative Medicine for Motion Sickness
In one study, 1 to 2 grams of ginger relieved motion sickness in naval
cadets. Acupressure has been shown to be effective for motion sickness in some.
Though magnets have been touted for relieving motion sickness, there's
currently no proof to suggest they're of any benefit.