This topic provides information about Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.
What is Mal de Debarquement Syndrome?
Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MDD or MdDS), also called Disembarkment Syndrome, is a rare condition of the vestibular system (balance system) in which a sensation of movement or imbalance occurs following time in motion, such as on a cruise, airplane, or other travel.
The first known case of MdDS was recorded by Darwin in 1796, although little more has been learned about the disorder since.
What causes Mal de Debarquement Syndrome?
Little is known about Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. It most commonly occurs immediately following an ocean cruise or other type of water travel. There have also been reports following extended time on an airplane, train, car, or even when sleeping on a water bed. For some, there is no known motion event, the onset beginning spontaneously.
General opinion is that MdDS is not caused by injury to the ear or brain. Some believe that it is a variant of motion sickness or migraine.
It is most common in middle-aged women. For this reason, some experts think it has to do with the sex hormones such as estrogen.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Mal de Debarquement Syndrome can include a sensation of movement, rocking, swaying, bobbing, or bouncing when sitting or standing still, or even when laying down. They can be increased when in a small space. These symptoms can last for months or years following the triggering event.
MdDS is not the same as land sickness in which similar symptoms occur for a brief time (usually 2 days or less) following disembarking from sea travel vessels.
Symptoms usually improve during motion activities, such as when driving or riding in a car.
Secondary symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, headaches, loss of balance, and difficulty concentrating.
How is Mal de Debarquement Syndrome diagnosed?
Mal de Debarquement Syndrome is diagnosed by a case history which describes a triggering motion event, known symptoms, and an improvement when in the car.
Other tests are performed to rule out possible alternative diagnoses, such as Meniere’s Disease or perilymph fisula.
How is it treated?
Symptoms of MdDS may resolve spontaneously.
Most medications that work for other forms of dizziness or motion sickness are ineffective at treating MdDs. Since the physiological cause of MdDS is unknown, there is no proven treatment. Some suggested forms of treatment include, physical therapy, optokinetic stimulation, and medications used to manage migraines. Much more research is needed on Mal de Debarquement Syndrome to determine effective treatment methods.
Does Mal de Debarquement Syndrome cause lasting problems?
Mal de Debarquement Syndrome can cause mild to severe discomfort for the duration of the symptoms.