After a vacation on a cruise ship, you finally set foot on land. But, you still feel the ground swaying right and left. You find that your foot misses the floor or you trip down the stairs as you felt that the steps moved. You are actually experiencing something called post cruise dizziness, in other words, land sickness. Medically, it is called Mal de debarquement (MdDS). It is a very rare condition that occurs after a cruise or a prolonged motion event. There is not much research or studies that have been conducted regarding this syndrome. We shall have a quick look at what causes dizziness after cruise and know if there is a cure for this condition.
What is Mal de debarquement?
Mal de debarquement is another name for this type of vertigo that occurs only after you step out of a cruise ship. It gives the affected person a prolonged sense of dizziness or imbalance. It persists for a temporary and short time or persists for months and even years on end. A bit of information on this condition will be helpful for every first timer who is brave enough to face the sea. This condition is also reported after air travel, train travel, space travel or after using high-speed elevators frequently.
The symptoms tend to appear shortly after the motion ceases and the person becomes motionless. These symptoms appear when the person is sitting, lying down, standing or takes a stationary position. If the person is in motion again like traveling in a car, plane, train, etc., the symptoms considerably reduce. Some of the symptoms reported are as follows:
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The exact cause of dizziness after cruise is still unknown. There is no injury to the ear or brain that seems to trigger this sense of motion. It may be a psychiatric condition associated with depression or it can be related to some central nervous system abnormalities. This condition seems to affect more women in the age group of 35 to 40 years than men. Thus, it may be linked to the effects of hormones like progesterone or estrogen. Basically, our vestibular system tends to adapt itself in different environment. When it fails to adapt itself on a stable ground, it results in vertigo after a cruise. Thus, the person experiences constant rocking or swaying, even after the stimulus has been removed.
Diagnosing post cruise dizziness as MdDS is rather difficult, as not all doctors can guess it at one go. One needs to undergo several tests to rule out other causes. Hearing exams, blood tests, balance exams, etc., all put together help in diagnosis of dizziness after cruise.
Medically speaking, this condition is a self-limiting condition. This means, one does not actually need to follow a rigorous pattern for cure. The doctor may prescribe a traditional vertigo medication. Valium and other similar derivatives seem to alleviate the symptoms to some extent. However, one should exert caution as these drugs are habit-forming. Sleep and exercises like walking, jogging, bicycling, etc., also seem to be helpful.
As you can see, post cruise vertigo can turn into a debilitating condition, if the symptoms experienced are severe. This condition is very rare and about 90% of the patients are women. If your symptoms of dizziness, imbalance and floating do not seem to go away after about 12 to 24 hours of a cruise trip, seek medical help immediately.