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Mal de Debarquement

Abstract

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NORD is grateful to Timothy C. Hain, MD, Professor of Neurology, Orolaryngology, and Physical Therapy/Human Movement Science at Northwestern University, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Mal de Debarquement

  • MdDS

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) is a rare and little understood disorder of the body’s balance system (vestibular system) and refers to the rocking sensation and/or sense of imbalance that persists for an excessive length of time after an ocean cruise, plane flight or other motion experience. Most people after exposure to an ocean trip or long airplane ride will experience "motion" after the event is over and for a short period of time, with two days being the upper limit of normal. But for persons with MdDS, these sensations may last for 1 month or a year or even many years. Symptoms may diminish in time or periodically disappear and reappear after days, months, or years, sometimes after another motion experience or sometimes spontaneously. This syndrome is probably more common than the literature might lead us to believe, as the level of awareness in the general population as well as among health personnel is very low.

The disproportionate length of time over which the discomfort persists is normally unaccompanied by nausea, nor is it responsive to motion-sickness drugs.

For reasons that are not understood, middle aged women are overwhelmingly more likely to come down with MdDS than are men. However, most studies so far have disavowed hormones as a cause.

Mal de Debarquement Resources

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