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What Is Cybersickness? Symptoms And Treatment

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explores the phenomenon of cybersickness, which has emerged as a notable concern in the digital age.


Cybersickness, or virtual reality sickness or simulation sickness, is a term used to describe symptoms that can occur when there is a disconnect between what someone sees on a screen and how their body feels. 


“Have you ever experienced light-headedness or nausea while scrolling through social media or browsing the web? If so, you may have had an episode of cyber sickness,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“Similar to motion sickness, which is common on boats, in cars, and on amusement park rides for many people, cybersickness can happen when your senses send conflicting signals to your brain. This phenomenon can occur while using multiple screens, attending virtual meetings where someone else controls the screen, or simply scrolling on your smartphone or computer.”

What Is the Cause of Cybersickness?

The exact cause of cybersickness is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a mismatch between visual and vestibular (balance) cues. 


When the brain receives visual information that suggests motion or movement, the body does not feel it (such as playing video games or using virtual reality headsets). It can cause disorientation and other cybersickness symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms – Symptoms of cybersickness can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating

A Word on Mental Wellness

In addition to the physical symptoms, cybersickness can also harm mental health, as physical symptoms can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and even anxiety. The constant stimulation and information overload that technology provides can also contribute to feelings of burnout.

How To Prevent Cybersickness  

Fortunately, several strategies can help to prevent or manage cybersickness. Some of these strategies include:

Staying Hydrated 

Staying hydrated can help minimise cybersickness symptoms, as dehydration can exacerbate symptoms like nausea and headaches.


Managing Stress 

Stress can aggravate symptoms of cybersickness, so managing stress levels through activities like exercise, meditation, or deep breathing is essential.


Adjusting Settings

Adjusting the settings on screens or virtual reality devices can help reduce cybersickness symptoms. This may include adjusting the field of view, reducing the screen’s brightness, or adjusting the motion sensitivity.

Taking Frequent Breaks 

Taking frequent breaks from screens, or virtual reality environments can help to reduce the risk of developing cybersickness. Experts recommend taking breaks every 20-30 minutes to give the brain a chance to adjust.


Limiting Exposure 

Limiting exposure to screens or virtual reality environments can also help prevent cybersickness. This may mean limiting gaming time, using virtual reality headsets, or using screens or devices in moderation.

Using Medication 

In some cases, doctors may prescribe medication to manage cybersickness symptoms. This may include anti-nausea medication or medication to manage symptoms like headaches.


“As technology continues to advance, more people will likely be exposed to screens and virtual reality environments, and the risk of cybersickness may increase,” adds Hewlett. 


“It is important for individuals to be aware of cybersickness symptoms and to take steps to prevent or manage it. Researchers also need to continue studying cybersickness to understand its causes better and develop effective strategies for prevention and management. By working together, we can minimise the negative effects of cybersickness and make technology a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.”

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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