Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

The Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (shortened to MdDS) is a French phrase that can be translated as 'disembarkation sickness'. It is a condition that usually occurs after a cruise, aircraft flight, or other sustained motion event. Brief episodes of MdDS are quite common in healthy individuals: a study of navy crewmen after sea voyage showed that 72 % of 116 subjects experienced transient MdD immediately after disembarking from a ship, which resolved spontaneously.
But in some patients the symptoms persist. Symptoms most frequently reported[1] include a persistent internal sense of rocking, bobbing or swaying that appears after disembarking from a vessel. Also reported are symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, visual disturbances (such as seeing motion, inability to focus etc.), headaches, confusion, and anxiety. Cognitive impairment may include an inability to recall words, short term memory loss, and an inability to multi-task.

Symptoms are increased by stress, lack of sleep, crowds, flickering lights, loud sounds, fast or sudden movements, enclosed areas or busy patterns.

In MdDS, the symptoms persist for more than a month, possibly for many years, and sometimes do not resolve at all. MdDS is thought to be a neurological syndrome with no known cause or cure.

[1] Cha et al: Clinical features and associated syndromes of mal de debarquement in Journal of Neurology – 2008 (pdf here)

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