Cyber Dizziness: The Overlooked Problem of the 21st Century
Dizziness is the feeling of being lightheaded, unbalanced, or woozy. It affects our sensory organs, particularly the eyes and ears, and it can often cause fainting because of this. Dizziness itself is not a disease, rather it is a symptom of one.
Some people may get dizziness mixed up with vertigo or disequilibrium. Vertigo is the sensation you or the things around you are spinning, as if the room is moving. It can also feel like you are leaning to one side or have a similar sensation to motion sickness. Disequilibrium is a loss of balance. However, when we are speaking of true dizziness, this means the feeling of lightheadedness or nearly fainting.
Cyber Dizziness — What Is It?
Do you ever begin to feel a little off when you are watching a movie with a lot of computer-generated action scenes or when you are quickly scrolling through your smartphone? Do you get a dull headache, nausea, and lightheadedness? Are you wondering if you might be getting sick or maybe you shouldn’t have eaten that last taco?
Chances are, that is not the problem. It is probably due to the same thing afflicting a lot of us who make use of technology on a daily basis. It is an odd side effect of the 21st century called digital motion sickness or cybersickness. It is becoming more and more common according to medical and media experts. It can cause you to feel woozy, as if you were on a boat churning about in the high waves at sea. The source of this feeling is moving digital content.
According to Cyriel Diels, a cognitive psychologist and human factors researcher at Coventry University’s Center for Mobility and Transport in England, it’s an important problem that is being swept under the rug or hidden by the tech industry. She describes this reaction to moving media as a “natural response to an unnatural environment.”
Why Does Digital Motion Sickness Happen?
Medical professionals refer to this as visually induced motion sickness. It occurs because of a basic mismatch between sensory inputs, as stated by Steven Rauch, medical director of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center. He continues to relate how our sense of balance has a lot of inputs, more than from other senses. When those inputs don’t agree, we feel nausea and dizziness.
When you are on a cruise, in your cabin, and you begin to feel seasick, it is because your inputs are not matching up. Therefore, if you go up on deck and focus on the horizon line, you begin to feel better. Everything from your muscles and joints to the delicate structures of your inner ear is feeling movement, but you are not seeing it. However, when you are dealing with cyber dizziness, it is the opposite. You are seeing movement, such as the video game car chase or the twists and turns in a movie, but you are not feeling it in your muscles and joints. This is what causes you to feel dizzy and sick to your stomach.
This happens to everyone, even those who do not usually get motion sickness easily. In fact, recent studies indicate it occurs in as many as 50 to 80 percent of people. Women are more susceptible to cyber dizziness than men. In addition, those prone to getting migraines or who have had a concussion in the past may experience this more often. Interestingly, those with Type A or perfectionist personality traits are also more at risk. The theory behind it is that these people tend to be more alert and reactive to sensory inputs. That has been proven true in those with migraines.
Even the military has been aware of cyber dizziness for a long time. Seasoned pilots often experience it when in flight simulators. As simulators have gotten more advanced and now use 3D imagery, the problem of cyber dizziness has also increased.
If this type of technology results in feeling bad, why do companies promote it? It is the idea of getting audiences to feel like they are part of the action on the screen rather than outside observes. And, obviously, the audiences love the technology more than they hate experiencing dizziness. There is even a website that rates movies as to how sick they make you feel.
Experts agree that repeated exposure to this type of thing can cause you to get used to it after a while. But, is it really a good thing? Is it safe to train your brain to ignore conflicting sensory stimuli? What happens when we need our senses in the real world? Can we rely on them then? In fact, the military grounds their pilots for up to 12 hours after doing flight simulator sessions because there are real, and often dangerous, aftereffects.
Getting to the Source of Dizziness
Some people have a serious issue with dizziness that is not related to cyber dizziness and may be due to a misaligned bone in the top of the neck. Upper cervical chiropractors are specially trained to care for misalignments in this area of the neck. A misalignment here can put the brainstem under stress and cause it to send improper signals to the brain. If the brainstem tells the brain that the body is moving when it is not, dizziness can be an end result.
Using a very gentle and precise method that does not require popping or cracking of the spine, we are able to coax the bones to naturally realign themselves back into place. This often helps those experiencing dizziness to keep their feet firm on the ground.