NORD gratefully acknowledges the Vestibular Disorders Association and Jeffrey Kramer, MD, Neurology Department, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, IL, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
The primary symptom is the persistence of a sense of motion and rocking. Some patients may experience fatigue, mood changes and confusion. Imbalance is a common complaint. Symptoms often increase when exposed to fast movements, flickering lights and grocery store aisles. There may be transient improvement in symptoms with re-exposure to passive motion, for example, riding in cars or trains. After completion of the trip, however, the symptoms tend to recur.
Studies have shown that the length of time one is exposed to a motion experience does not determine the severity or duration of the syndrome, but most typical cases are triggered by day trips lasting several days.
The true cause behind MDD is still unknown. MDD likely results from the body’s balance system inadequately processing and adapting to multiple sensory inputs (visual, vestibular, proprioceptive and cognitive) from the environment once the stimulus (trigger) has ended. It is as yet undetermined as to the cause of the balance system’s inability to appropriately compensate and adapt. How or why this happens remains a mystery.
The majority of people affected are adult females, although there have been reports of males having the diagnosis. Patients with migraine may have any increased susceptibility through unknown mechanisms.
The diagnosis of MDD still remains mostly clinical. As such, the history is very important. Persistent “dizziness” after an ocean cruise, a sailing trip, a prolonged airplane flight or a cross-country road trip is highly suggestive of MDD. Vestibular function tests in patients with MDD have been normal or nonspecific in their abnormality. These tests are important in excluding other etiologies for the patient’s symptoms.
MDD is very difficult to treat, with little effectiveness of most treatments. Clonazepam at low doses once or twice a day has shown improvement in patients. Higher doses were not proven to be effective. Vestibular rehabilitation has shown effectiveness in a small number of patients. Patients who do recover may be susceptible to recurrences of increased duration.
Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov . All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.
For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:
Tollfree: (800) 411-1222
TTY: (866) 411-1010
For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact: www.centerwatch.com
Some current clinical trials also are posted on the following page on the NORD website:
For more information about clinical trials conducted in Europe, contact: https://www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu/
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