Mobility Device?
December 7, 2008 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a biological answer to a very strange and SFW question. The following are a somewhat isolated set of circumstances: When I'm hungover and in any car, whether as a passenger or driver, I will feel pretty nauseous. My cure for this nausea is to hang one hand out the window. The twist is that the cure only works if it is precipitating and cool outside, but it works really well. More below...

I was traveling with my stepbrother the other day, and he wasn't feeling well (hungover) and I suggested the strange cure without telling him why. He immediately felt better. Any theories on why and how this works?
posted by Arquimedez Pozo to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How much do you open the window? If all the way, it could just be that getting some fresh air helps you, period.
posted by metalheart at 8:05 PM on December 7, 2008

I'd guess the air. Also, usually if I'm nauseous (hungover or not) I get really warm before I get sick and cool air has always helped a lot. Same for a cold glass of water against my neck or an icepack...
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 8:18 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are all kinds of acupuncture wrist bands that put pressure on the inside of the wrist to relieve nausea and motion sickness. Maybe when you put your hand out the window the cooling effect on the inside of your wrist accomplishes something similar?
posted by cosmic osmo at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2008

This doesn't help a lot, but when I'm overheated and I run cold water over my wrists, I cool down a good deal. Maybe the coolness on your hands [and thus your wrist pulse points] serves as a refresher for your body.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2008

The warmer you are, the more likely you are to be nauseous. This is one of the reasons airplanes are kept cold -- it cuts down on airsickness. I'd guess the answer is a combination of cooling down, fresh air and maybe a bit of the pressure points.
posted by printdevil at 8:50 PM on December 7, 2008

I just was thinking that it might also be a case of just tricking your mind into thinking about something else. The fact that you say it works best when there is precipitation maybe suggests that it's not just the air, but the process of taking your brain off the subject of being nauseous (even if only subconsciously).
posted by metalheart at 9:03 PM on December 7, 2008

The hands/palms are actually a pretty good place for heat exchange. In fact a couple of companies make chilled devices for athletes to hold onto and rapidly cool themselves down. If you do it for a couple of minutes or more you might be cooling yourself down more than you think and feeling the effects of that.
posted by Science! at 10:49 PM on December 7, 2008

Here is an article from Wired that discusses the cooling devices that Science! mentioned:

In it the writer says it helped his hangover.
posted by hifimofo at 11:04 PM on December 7, 2008

Motion sickness is usually caused by the disagreement between your eyes (I'm running at great speed!) and your other senses (My butt says I'm sitting in a chair). Seasickness is the same problem, but in reverse (my eyes say I'm in a small stationary room, but my body says I'm flying from side to side at random!)

Putting your hand out the window and feeling the rain impact on your skin at speed, and/or the wind on your wet skin may be reconnecting your body's sense of motion and your eyes.

Interestingly, the current theory for the sickness in the first place is a defence against poison. If your senses are coming to a disagreement about your position and movement, then you may have ingested some kind of toxic hallucinogen, and you feel the urge to vomit to clear any still left in your stomach.

Maybe his hangover was partially motion sickness? I know moving around much with a hangover certainly makes my hangover worse, which is why I try to avoid hangovers these days.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:28 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's a simple matter of shocking your body out of its nauseous state. You could accomplish the same thing by washing your face with cold water or running cold water over your hands, both of which have been widely recommended for alleviating nausea. As for how it works, I think it's a simple matter of distracting your body from its distressed state. Many times nausea is psychosomatic - if you can derail the thought, you can derail the nausea.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:21 AM on December 8, 2008

Best answer: Just wanted to input that I get motion sick like 10 kinds of a freak. Anyway, the only two fixes once I get the barfs is to either A-smash my face against the window (it's cool, and that helps) or to open the window and put out my hand....if it's cold. If it's hot I have to hang my head out the window.

I agree it has something to do with heat, but I don't know what. Always thought I was a weirdo.

shh. don't be mean.
posted by TomMelee at 5:25 AM on December 8, 2008

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