Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDS) is a rare disorder that usually develops the following travel, especially by sea. There is a constant sensation of motion like swaying, bobbing, rocking or being pushed. Some people may also feel it after long auto or air travel, though it is not very common. This condition is more prevalent in women than in men and can cause distress in everyday life.
Some patients may develop MdDSeven without a history of exposure to prolonged motion. The intensity of this false sense of motion varies from person to person. Symptoms are usually decreased when the patient is experiencing passive motion such as in a moving car, aeroplane etc. It often disappears completely on driving. Unfortunately, MdDS often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and may continue for years if not treated properly. (more info)
The most common symptoms associated with Mal de Debarquement are rocking, swaying and disequilibrium. Anxiety and depression too may accompany this disorder. A true spinning vertigo (full article here) seldom accompanies it.
The symptoms get intensified when the patient is in a closed space or is trying to be still, such as sitting on a couch or while lying down in bed. Stress causes the symptoms to become more noticeable in some individuals. Most of the times, the symptoms improve or even disappear during continuous movements such as while driving a vehicle.
For a diagnosis of Mal de debarquement to be made, the individual must subjectively report a history of a return to a normal environment, and the beginning of rocking, swaying, or disequilibrium sensations shortly after that. To rule out other causes of the symptoms, objective diagnostic procedures such as vestibular testing should be performed.
Many treatment protocols have been tried to address MdDS. Standard drugs prescribed for motion sickness (including meclizine and scopolamine patches) are often ineffective in stopping or even decreasing the symptoms. Some of the treatments that have shown proven results are vestibular rehabilitation exercises and the use of benzodiazepines, Tricyclic antidepressants, too areused to treat the symptoms. The patient should try to avoid the circumstances that have triggered or aggravated the symptoms. Vestibular rehabilitation with virtual reality environments has shown favorable results.
Author: Dr. Anita Bhandari
Dr.Anita Bhandari is MS(ENT) and a consultant Neurotologist practicing in Jaipur, India. She has done a fellowship in Otology and Neurotology from Singapore. She has set up a state-of-art Vertigo and Ear Clinic in Jaipur (www.vertigoandearclinic.com) which is amongst the most advanced vertigo clinics in India.
Dr. Bhandari is actively involved in development of diagnostic equipment in the field of diagnosis and rehabilitation of vertigo and balance disorders. She has contributed to the development of Computerized Dynamic Visual Acuity , Cranio-Coprpography , Subjective Visual Vertical , Video Nystagmography and
Posturography diagnostic equipment and has two patents in this field . She has also been involved in development of Virtual reality for vestibular rehabilitation . She is Scientific advisor to NeuroEquilibrium, a unique project to set up 500 super-specialized vertigo and dizziness clinics in India , Asia & Africa leveraging cloud technology.
She has authored chapters on ‘Vestibular Physiology’, ‘Dynamic Visual Acuity’, ‘Surgical treatment of vertigo’, ‘Difficult cases in vertigo’ in various Neurotology textbooks. She is an invited speaker in various Vertigo & Neurotology conferences across the world.