Learn About the Mysterious Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, Which Affects 10,000 Australians

According to a story from abc.net.au, an unusual and poorly known rare disease has been making its presence known in the country of Australia. This disease is called mal de debarquement syndrome. As patients and researchers are making efforts to learn more about the illness and manage its unusual symptoms, Brain Hub Academia recently held a conference in Sydney to discuss the symptoms of the disease, its potential causes and risk factors, and what can be done about it.

About Mal De Debarquement Syndrome (MDDS)

Mal de debarquement syndrome is a rare neurological condition that is characterized by an unusual sensation of being off balance, with patients describing a persistent feeling of bobbing or swaying even while they are standing or sitting still. These symptoms can be serious to the extent of debilitation. Women appear to be affected more frequently than men. Often patients feel better when they are traveling in a vehicle again, but getting out can trigger more severe symptoms. The condition is often linked to long distance travel in a vehicle, but recent research has suggested that this may not be the primary cause. Other symptoms of mal de debarquement syndrome can include fatigue, neck and back pain, migraines, light sensitivity, memory and thinking problems, and excessive sleeping. Some drugs such as benzodiazepines can reduce symptoms; there is ongoing research in regards to other approaches. To learn more about mal de debarquement syndrome, click here.

Unraveling The Mysteries

The conference discussed various aspects of the condition as well as other diseases associated with loss of balance. Anxiety is common among many patients because of the feeling of unsteadiness brought about by the disease.

Some of the latest research has also revealed that hormonal imbalances in women as well as stress can exacerbate or trigger symptoms, and may be risk factors for mal de debarquement syndrome. The average age of diagnosis in women is around 49 years, which is when many women enter menopause or are close to entering it. Research has also revealed that misdiagnosis (“it’s all in your head“) is common and many patients may live undiagnosed. Doctors often dismiss symptoms as vertigo or depression, partially because the results of vestibular tests (which investigate balance and reflexes) are often negative. 

The conference also discussed a procedure called the vestibular ocular reflex protocol, in which a patient is placed in a room and has a doctor move their head in response to light being shone on the walls, as a method that can reduce symptoms.

Hopefully, continued research will reveal more about strange condition.


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