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What Is Mal de Debarquement Syndrome?

Melinda Crow

Jan 8, 2020

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2 min read

Ever have the sensation that buildings or sidewalks on dry land are moving after you disembark from your cruise? That's a mild version of mal de debarquement -- French for "sickness of disembarkation."

In most instances, the mild dizziness and feeling of movement disappears quickly once you get your "land legs" back -- often before you arrive back home. It is when it persists beyond your first or second day post cruise that it becomes a problem.

Suffering from vertigo after a cruise includes many of the same symptoms as motion sickness while onboard: nausea, fatigue, unsteadiness on your feet, headaches and even confusion or anxiety. Longer trips on rough seas are a bit more likely to produce mal de debarquement syndrome, but it can occur following even short rides on small boats, trains or buses.

What's the treatment for mal de debarquement syndrome? Most people don't do anything because it usually goes away on its own with time. There are no medications that treat it successfully for everyone -- even standard motion sickness medications don't usually alleviate the symptoms felt on dry land.

If you have sensations of movement for more than a couple of days following a cruise, it is best to seek medical advice. Your doctor may want to rule out more serious conditions of the brain or inner ear.

Updated January 08, 2020
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