Why Do You Still Feel Bouncy After Long Flights And Cruises?

girl jumping in bouncy castleMany of you who have taken long flights have probably experienced that slight wobbly or bouncy sensation a few hours after landing – as if you were still rocking in the plane during flight. This lagging sensation, broadly called “land sickness” can also occur after a cruise, car ride, or any situation where you’re in motion for an extended period.

Why It Occurs

To find the answer I got in touch with several doctors (many thanks to Got Passport for the references) to find out. The immediate sensation you feel is caused by your brain receiving mixed signals from your eyes and vestibular system in the ear. It’s similar to why many people experience seasickness – your eyes tell your brain the body isn’t moving while the vestibular system in your ear feels the sensation of motion. It’s confusing and can be slightly disorienting, especially as the vestibular system gets conditioned and used to what its feeling.

woman's ear

When you get off the airplane or boat, your inner ear is on autopilot and keeps telling your brain there’s motion, forget what those eyes say! Eventually though for most people the effects subside after a few hours or days at most.

Mal De Debarquement Syndrome

For a rare few however, the bouncy feeling may persist for much longer – months or years. It’s a condition known as Mal de Debarquement syndrome (MDD or MdDS) and very little in known about it except that it primarily effects women between the ages of 40 and 50. Also, those who suffer from it are likely to do so after a long cruise rather than a flight.

  • MdDS is likely a genetic condition not caused by injury to the ear or brain and thought to be related somehow to the sex hormones estrogen or progesterone.
  • The MdDS Balace Disorder Foundation has coincidentally named June MdDS Awareness Month.

There is no cure or treatment although being in motion, ironically, tends to eliminate the symptoms.

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Pericardium 6 acupressure pointPreventing The Bouncy Feeling

There is little research on land sickness prevention and there isn’t much you can do about it but relax…literally. Stress and fatigue can make you feel even more bouncy and may prolong the sensation so use these 3 ways to reduce flight delay stress or hone stress to improve your travels altogether.

There is also an acupuncture point on the inside of your wrist, about two finger widths up (shown right). Applying firm pressure there with your fingers may combat land or sea sickness.

Have You Ever Experienced Land Sickness?

I tend to have the feeling for several days after a flight which is more of a nuisance than anything – especially in the shower. I’m curious to hear what your experience with land sickness has been. You can let me know using the poll below or leaving a comment (perhaps winning a prize in the process).

[poll id=”81″]

In short, the sensation is normal if it only lasts for a few hours or days and is caused by your body’s balance system getting used to constant motion only for it to stop suddenly. Don’t stress in the air or at sea and you should be feeling better in no time.

[photos by: World Of Oddy (girl jumping in bouncy castle), Orin Zebest (woman’s ear), jodigreen (star tattoo)]

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  1. Give me a reply says:

    hey everyone.
    Glad I found this site cuz I’ve had this feeling ever since i return from my trip to NY. I have been doing a lot of traveling lately about every month. From Hawaii to Japan and Korea. I’ve never had this before. But this time I tried connecting flights. That probably made it worst. So far it’s been 4 days. It hasn’t been getting worst. Maybe slowly better. Hoping it goes away soon. Usually I feel it when sitting down and shifting when sitting down. I don’t notice it much when walking or lying down. Strange but unlike most of you I don’t feel it when I take a shower.

    Something I wanted to add. I’ve always had problems with ear wax build up and air pressure in high altitudes. I don’t even have to fly in a plane. It could just be riding elevators to the top or driving up a hill. Anyway, if you have heavy wax build up then you should have it cleaned out. Because in situations like the above or on a plane that pressure can push against your ear drum. That is why you feel pain in your ear. Wax build up is common in many people and if you can flush it out yourself with over the counter drops, then the nurse can flush it out for you. You’ll be surprised how refresh you’ll feel afterwards. But ironically, when you get it flushed out you’ll feel dizziness as so much water has gone through your ears.

    • Anil P. says:

      It’s not the wax that’s likely causing the sensation; although everyone might be able to use a good cleaning from time to time 😉 Hope your symptoms ease soon!

      • Give me a reply says:

        thank you. it seems like it was going away but i guess it can come back. people keep telling me go to the doctor but as I have read this article and elsewhere there is really nothing one can do? except time and rest.. correct? 11 days and it’s beginning to be a bit of concern since I’ve read some people on here have had it for years!? I’m also concerned if I plan to travel again that it will make it worst and never go away. I suppose sick sickness pills or aspirin wouldn’t help eh?

        • Anil P. says:

          Definitely go to the doctor if you are being bothered; they can best diagnose your condition and suggest a treatment. 11 days is a long time and in either case if it’s causing you irritation get it checked. Good luck!

  2. Cathy H says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have had MdDS for almost 3 years now following a 2 day sailing race (and I’ve been on boats all my life). Please send people to http://www.mddsfoundation.org for more information on this disorder.
    Thank you.

    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Cathy, yes I did link to the foundation in this post. I do hope there is more research and treatment for you in the near future to alleviate the symptoms. If you’d ever like to do an interview about it please feel free to get in touch, I’d love to learn more and share with my audience:


      • Cathy H says:

        Hello Anil. I am so happy that you posted the information about MdDS and am very happy to see all the responses coming in. For those we get over this syndrome quickly, you are lucky. But there are thousands of us for whom it does not go away. I have lived nearly 3 years with constant rocking, bobbing and swaying; fatigue, and the list goes on. It is not soothing, nor fun. Trying to sleep at night is hell. Please do not look at this disorder lightly. It is a life-altering disorder. We have created a couple of special videos for MdDS June Awareness Month and hope you will share them. I would love to provide an interview or more information to your readers. Sincerely, Cathy H.


        • Trish says:

          I am soooo glad to see I’m not the only one that feels this. But it’s horrible to see how many people do suffer from this. I don’t fly alot but just recently went to St. Thomas from the west coast so my flight back was over 11 hours of different flights back home. I had to call in sick to work the next day cause I feel like I’m still wobbling back and forth on the airplanes and it makes my stomache feel nauseated. I find myself the most comfortable laying down on a pillow somewhere but that’s not a way to live so I wish there was a cure to this besides waiting it out. And this is now day 2 and I’m still feeling the motion so it’s a tough way to live. I am 47 and I am hoping that it will pass very soon. When I read it could go on for years that scared me cause I couldn’t handle feeling this way everyday.

          • Anil P. says:

            For the vast majority of people, the sensation typically lasts only a day or two. Hopefully you won’t experience any prolonged effects.

            • mrs lolly pop says:

              I have had this on and off for 20 years. I get it from a boat, a lift ,and airplanes, Sometimes you cant avoid these things. It does not happen everytime.When i first got it i nearly had a nervous breakdown, could not work suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. It goes away but 3 months is a long time to keep it all together. At this point in time i have it again after a little 20 minute boat ride and it was flat calm for god sake. I have resolved to go with the flow as stressing makes it so much worse. IM lucky it does not affect me lying down so i get some relief.But to all you fellow swayers just keep calm and take each day as it comes. I also try and keep busy.

        • Anil P. says:

          Hi Cathy,

          Thank you very much for the information and the opportunity to interview you. I’ll be in touch via email over the next few days.

      • rose says:

        i found that putting a turban on your head or something heavy reduces the feeling. weird but helped for me. not a cure though

        • Omotola says:

          Hi, was on a canoe for 7 hrs yesterday, and have been feeling landsickness since..cud not sleep or think straight…

  3. Julie says:

    Glad to find this as I recently traveled to NC and felt this sensation – we were there for 6 days and it slowly got better each day but then upon returning home, same thing. Definitely a weird sensation – and I am a female between the ages of 40-50 so “bingo”! Glad to know there is a name for it, I was starting to get a bit worried. I knew though that it had to be something related to the flying. I kept trying to explain it to people and they would so “oh vertigo” and I said no, it’s not a feeling of dizziness, it’s a feeling of being on a plane and the ascending and descending. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Quin says:

    I’ve had MdDS for 11 years. Most GPs don’t know about it, and it can be very frustrating to get to the bottom of it. Even then, there’s not much they can do for you, but at least you know you aren’t imagining it. I travel full time, too, and it can be a bitch to deal with, but it can be done. I wrote about my experience on my travel blog, and Anil, if you say it’s okay, I can post a link.

  5. rose says:

    yep had this and its lasted for sometimes weeks. Yes if you stress more it gets worse. I did find something to relieve it not cure it as its time that cures it if you lucky. I got out the shower and had washed my hair. I put a towel around my head and made it into a heavy turban. when i walked around i felt very grounded. It eased it a lot. But soon as turban off back to the floating. I also found that if i got up on a stand about 2 foot off the floor and stood there it went away again.But you cant stand on the stand for ever. I would love to go on a cruise with my friends or just fishing on a boat but no can do. the last time i had it was back in december and all i did was go on a 15 min ferry ride in sydney and off it went.

  6. Went on an Cruise in May ,still swaying... says:

    I went on an cruise back in may,my first time, and after it was over the days following I begin to feel this swaying and at times bouncing sensation. Have done some research and the term Mal De Disembarque has come up several times. Needing more insight and info on this and if it possibly will ever go away.Also,this was my first cruise and there were others with me that did not experience this and they think I have “lost it” And two of them got sick at the beginning of the cruise and had to have the patch behind ear,the bracelet and other measures. They never felt this .Would love more info on this disease and if it will ever”really” go away.

    • Anil P. says:

      There is no known cure, however you should see a doctor to rule out other possibilities and confirm that Mal De Debarquement Syndrome is actually what you are suffering from. There may be other causes for your symptoms and a possible treatment for your case; only a doctor examining you would be able to say for sure. Good luck and I hope the feeling does completely dissipate.

  7. Hazel says:

    I’ve had a ‘bobbing’ feeling for about 3 weeks now. It was before I went on holiday to Spain, it makes me feel sick and I have a headache right across the front of the forehead. As with other people, when I’m in the car the bobbing goes completely, so does the headache and the sick feeling. My partner thought it might be vertigo but when I checked on the symptons mine was more like MdDs, I don’t spin, I bob, and as everyone else has said it’s just like when you’ve been on a boat, I look more like a string puppet when I walk some times. When I open my eyes in the morning I start to bob and if I concentrate too much on my typing I start to bob. I think I have got MdDS as the symptons seem to point in that direction, so thanks to this site for the info. Hope it doesn’t last for years mind !!. Thanks for the info again

    • Anil P. says:

      I would go to a doctor to rule out other possibilities and seek potential treatments. There may be other factors in your case that are making the symptoms more pronounced and by narrowing those down, along with treatment, might bring some relief. Good luck and hope you’re feeling better soon.

  8. Angelica says:

    My department just moved to a new building that has a parking garage in it, therefore the floor shakes when people walk by and occasionally on its own. Now because of this when I stand up I feel like I’m bouncing up and down just enough to make me nervous and queesey. Do u think this could be the same concept, or issue?

    • Anil P. says:

      I’m not sure actually; no studies that I’ve found have been done about those symptoms in such little background movement, but it is possible. I would try to eliminate the other potential causes first though to get a better idea.

    • Fauzia says:

      I get the same feeling when I am in the elevator.

      I got too much pain in my ears during the flight and after having ear drops I had blood in my mouth. My docyor told me its because of the strong drops that ruptured the capillaries.

      I hate to fly , I have recurrent Migrain headaches,bouncy feelings and nausea.

  9. Tamara says:

    Hi, interesting site! I was trawling the net trying to find out if anyone else has experienced what I am right now.
    $.5 hour flight to tenerife to uk – and back again. A few hours after getting home (stressed and tired from travelling through the night) I got the familiar feeling of ‘land sickness’ I have always experienced this with all forms of travel, but usually only for a few hours. This time it has been 5 days and counting – looking at the screen now I am getting the disorientating feeling of staring out of a plane window. A fuzzy tired floaty feeling, that I am dis connected from everything around me, when I walk I feel the turbulance of the plane trip on my living room floor!
    It’s scary, but I’m trying not to cause myself extra stress by worrying.
    I’m a 33 yr old woman who was probably at the tierdest that I have ever been, during that last plane ride. I slept (tried) horizontally on the spare seats which I think confused my inner ear more than ever!
    I was hormonal as well as stressed and tired – prime candidate I know.
    Do you guys think it will ever go away :-(

    • Anil P. says:

      I would definitely give yourself a few days to rest and relax to see how you feel after that. Let us know how it goes – and wishing you a speedy recovery!

  10. Coco says:

    I don’t normally experience this (unless spending time on a boat) but this week have had problems with this sensation after a short flight. I read this and I think I know why! I am currently breastfeeding and this changes the oestrogen/progesterone levels in the body and obviously has made me more susceptible. Interesting!

  11. Amie says:

    Just took my 3rd trip to Vegas last week..been home for one week now, still with symptoms of motion. The first 2 trips to Vegas I had this same feeling, but disappeared after 2 days. I figured it was all of the moving sidewalks, elevators, loud sounds, crazy carpets, blinking lights, stressful environment and no sleep. I used to take houseboat trips in my twenties…and same thing. Never had problems with rollercoasters, long car rides or airplanes. Very frustrated, everything I read above with MdDS sounds like what I have, just turned 40…(just started having occasional nighttime hot flashes) I have had mild visual aura migraines my whole life….oh…and right now is my crazy time at work (special education, writing lots of IEPs)…..so this could be stress induced?? migraine/ hormone related?? I am able to tolerate, not very nauseated…mild but definitely irritating!!! I hope this goes away soon!

    • Anil P. says:

      Stress was shown to increase the symptoms in the studies above so it is possible – though I’d talk to a doctor if they last more than a week and are causing discomfort. Hopefully though the effects will begin to disappear soon, good luck!

  12. I thought I was going crazy,my other fellow cruizers are not... says:

    The day I got off the ship at port to come home I was feeling this bobbling rocking sensation.”It was a slight motion at that time,but it got more intense as time went by.” That was in May of this year.I still am feeling it. Rocking and bobbing and etc. My fellow cruise mates did not experience it and a few of them think “I am literally crazy” ! Two of them however,had seasickness and had patch , bracelet and meds in them so they were fine after a few days. One wanted off the ship. But I feel it most when I am sitting and at night in bed. It is an rock and bobble feeling.I had read somewhere that it may be connected to the inner ear being off kilter? Not sure on that. I do wear on occasion an sea band and it somewhat subsides at times. That helps. But I thought I was going crazy at first and some of my friends think I am also. And sometimes it is as if it may be my muscles around my neck and upper back that are aiding the”bobble-rock”. Will it ever go away and what helps it to go away? And I think as I have seen this term many times mentioned it may be Mal De Disembarke? Does it go away?

  13. glynda says:

    thank you for the info…now i know… I thought it was a symptom of jetlag having traveled across several time zones… had never heard of land sickness… in showering, the experience was more profound vs just out/about… and i am female in that age group that it happens most to… it’s pretty cool, though can be disconcerting and annoying at the same time… : / glad to know, though, it’ll go away in a few days at the most! thanks again. and happy traveling

  14. Aaron says:

    I tow a 10,000lb trailer behind a Ford F250. I’ve driven 16,000 miles towing my trailer over the last 90 days. But over the last 6 days, I’ve driven 8-12 hours a day each day, for a total of 3200 miles! Tonight, when I arrived at my destination after driving 620 miles in 9 hours, I felt kinda sick. After getting into my hotel room and sitting down, I realized that I still felt like I was in motion and bouncing down the road. It’s the first time in 10 years that I’ve had this sensation from driving. Really weird. Maybe cuz I’m getting older, 43. Dunno. But, it’s been 2.5 hours now since I stopped driving. The sensation has begun to subside just a little after eating dinner and sitting for a while. Hope to feel better in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Still have 880 miles to go over next two days.

  15. Tatyanne says:

    I can relate to so many things on this website. I have suffered this for the past 9 years and still no cure. It started out on a 3 day cruise, i began feeling really ill, vomiting, lost 15 lbs in 3 days. That sme year I developed vertigo, spinning, and had an ear infection due to a wax blockage that was removed and the spinning stopped. I took flights and boatrides and train rides shortly after and have never felt the sae ever since. Swaying is an everyday thing. Only anti anxiety pills make it better, i dont know why. I cant travel beacuse it gets worse, i cant excrsise because i sway even more. Ive gone to docs, testing, and no answer, just say its stress related. So glad to have found this site… My question is, did you ever have ear infections before it started? Good hopes to all!

  16. Cici O says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I wanted to share my experiences to see if it may help others. Just so everyone knows I just now self diagnosed myself with MdDS. My most recent doctors have diagnosed me initially with Chronic and Persistent Vertigo (3 months of Balance Rehabilitation) and then recently with seasonal allergies (6 months of allergy shots). None of the above worked but the Balance Rehab after 2 months seemed to help or my symptoms dissipated (who knows?). This has been going on for 2 years. After reading on MdDS I think I can trace it to the exact moment.

    October 2013: Went Parasailing, rode on elevators, and flew home to Colorado and started a new job with elevators (all within 48 hours). Off-balance, walking on a mattress feeling 5 days after parasailing.

    August 2014: Vertigo subsided (occurrences infrequent, mild and short-lived)
    March 2015: Went to Las Vegas. Stayed on the 16th floor and had tournaments in another hotel on the 18th floor. Stayed 3 days after day 2 I knew I was in trouble. Came home 3 days ago and am currently violently off balance/nauseated.

    I am going to do my rehab exercises which are similar to Cawthorne-Cooksey Exercises and hopes it goes away sooner than the last spell.

    p.s. The doctor who diagnosed me with Vertigo had me go youtube summersault ear exercises. He said if I have ear rocks to do the exercises for 3 days and hold each position until the dizziness stopped and the move to the next position, he stressed not to do these exercises after 3 days.

    This obviously didn’t work since I don’t have ear rocks but hopefully it might help other :)

  17. happymama says:

    Jeanne, are you still in remission/cured. Also, have you done anything for the Lyme? Do you still take the hormones? Just curious if you think there is a single (or two) of the hormones that make the most difference.

  18. fewgladitsnotworse says:

    I am so glad I found this. I get this every time I go abroad and it panics me. But now I know it won’t harm me I shall try and chill out. Thank you!!

  19. Nici says:

    I first experienced this awful syndrome after a trip to the South Pacific in 2004.
    It lasted for 6 weeks!
    I went to Amsterdamto last Friday (40 minute flight) and am still (almost a week later) “flying”
    I also experience this feeling after being in an elevator. It can last anywhere between a couple of hours and a couple of months.
    It’s absolutely unbearable!!!
    I pray that someone could make it stop!!!

  20. Andrea Frahm says:

    I found this because I Google’d “why do I still feel like I am flying in the airplane?” I flew home yesterday, about 24 hours ago, and it was a short 2-1/2 hour flight. I have no nausea, however. I also get this on long car rides (longer than 3 hours). Not a “bouncy” feeling, just exactly the motion you really don’t think about DURING the trip, as in the car or flying in the plane. Nothing disabling, and for that I am thankful.

    However, on my first cruise a few years ago, I had MAJOR nausea with motion sickness and it actually put me in bed for 24 hours.

    I am what is called a “flatlander”, having lived in the Midwest plains all my life – not sure if that is a contributing factor…then there is the added conundrum of being now 55 years old and on blood pressure meds, and I do not recall ever having this before, just within the last 10-15 years. Whoopee! Then there was the altitude sickness in Moab, Utah, but hey folks, that’s another story…

  21. Deb says:

    By the way, I feel that I should mention that stress does effect this disorder. Yesterday, there was a mass shooting in Connecticut (small children at a school). The moment I heard the news, I began very rapidly bouncing. Each time I’m relaxed, it’s not as bad, but the very minute something sudden or stressful occurs, the bouncing increases. Also, I noted a few other posters here had mentioned migraines with a visual aura. I, too, grew up with the flashing object in my vision that would begin near my focal point and slowly fade out to my peripheral vision, at which point the migraine would set in, with nausea and light & sound sensitivity. At around 40 years old, the migraine stopped coming with the “blind spots” (visual aura) and to this day, I still have the spots, but no headache pain. I usually get them when I haven’t eaten and/or I’m stressed out.

  22. Deb says:

    Hi! I’m so glad my mother found this page. I’m suffering for almost 7 weeks, now. It happened to me once before, about 6 years ago. I’ve finally figured out what causes it, for me. It’s elevators. Both times that I’ve gone through this, it was because I was using an elevator, frequently. The first time it was a job where my office was on the 3rd floor, but my duties included coming and going, hence, using the elevator often. My shifts were 14 hours long, with no days off, for 28 days. (Nuclear Power Refueling Outage)

    The 2nd time, from which I am now suffering, was from going to see President Obama, in Milwaukee, WI. We stayed at the Hilton hotel, on the 15th floor. The weekend was full of excitement and some stress (my son had an auto accident on his way up to join us to meet the President), but I think the true culprit was riding the elevator, many times. My husband & girlfriend are smokers, but the hotel did not allow smoking, so we went on the elevators, repeatedly, for them to go outside and have a cigarette. We stayed 2 nights and 3 days. As the time went on, I could feel the “vertigo” beginning to set in. I’ve been to my regular physician, who has prescribed 10mg of muscle relaxer (cyclobenzaprine: generic for Flexoril) and 1mg alprazolam (Xanax), every 8 hours, because I have issues with stress and anxiety. She then referred me to an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor, to rule out anything to do with my inner ear. The ENT came to the conclusion that it is a motion disorder and he assessed that my ears are healthy. He has prescribed physical therapy and gave me instructions for “Labarinthine Exercises”. The exercises are to be carried out for 15 minutes, twice a day, increasing to 30 minutes. I have tried to do the exercises at home. I did just fine with the eye exercises, but the head exercise threw me into a spinning fit! I almost threw up, I broke into a hot flash (I’m 50) and I haven’t even attempted it again. It was the exercise of tilting my head all the way down (toward the chest) and then all the way up (toward the ceiling), 20 times. The ENT did warn that the exercises will actually make me feel worse before I begin feeling better. I can post again later with the actual instructions, but because they are quite lengthy, I can’t do it right now. Included with the Labarinthine exercises is “Semont exercise therapy for positional vertigo”.

    The first time this happened to me, I called it vertigo and thought of it as a spinning sensation. It only lasted a brief time: about 2-3 weeks. This time, as I said earlier, it has been almost 7 weeks and I realize now that it isn’t “spinning”… it’s more like “floating”. It feels bouncy, like someone is playing with gravity. Walking on my treadmill for about 30 minutes, at 2.5 mph does seem to help. I’m lucky, this time, in that I am not working, so I have time to rest and get better. Thank God! At any rate, I hope my story is helpful. I promise I will come back and follow up with my progress, as well as typing out the instructions for the exercises that were given to me by the ENT.

  23. Robert says:

    To all. I’m very scared. I’m 27 and went on a party boat called holy ship for 4 days which is like a techno music party cruise. I partied hard, very hard, probably too hard. I slept a total of 5 hours over the whole cruise and seriously danced for 90% of it. I have been back for 2 days and it is increasingly getting worse. I’m totally sober and am walking around my house like i had 20 drinks. I actually hurt myself bumping into a wall walking up my stairs. It seems my condition is extreme. I can’t even imagine getting in a car. I need help somebody. Even someone to call me to calm me down. Please anyone. I live in upstate NY, my cell is . I may be over stressing but I will lose my mind if I wake up tomorrow and can’t read or something. I also feel that after reading these posts I will now have insomnia from the stress of the possibility of it being permanent knowing that it seems my condition is the most serious on this page. Please please someone help. Thank you.

    • Anil Polat says:

      Hi Robert, I’m very sorry to hear it all. I think you should talk to a doctor right away. Best of luck.

    • Sue says:

      Hi. Robert, Are you on the Holy Ship.Facebook page? Lots of people including my daughter are/ were having the same problem. I got my daughter Sea Bands at Walgreens last night which she wore while sleeping and today she is back to normal.Wether it was time, the bands or the combo of both I don’t know but they’re worth a try :). Hope you feel better soon, I’ m sure you will!
      Warm Regards, Sue

  24. rick says:

    It’s called Sea Knees

  25. Italy adventurer says:

    Hi everybody. I’m a 43 year old woman, overweight, traveling on an 18 day bus tour of a Italy. I have been feeling “land sick” since we had a 7 hour bus trip from Rome to Alberobello. Honestly, you feel like you are rocking in a boat. I have great sea legs and never get nausea on a boat, but I must say the “wobbles” can be very distracting. Very low grade nausea – not going to throw up any time soon, but the after effect from all the bus travel is making me reconsider going on another grand bus tour next year. Having jet lag and a massive sleep deficit doesn’t help either. Guess you can just ride it out – I didn’t see if taking an anti-nauseant would help.
    I’ve traveled before, taken ferries all my life, rowed, kayaked etc, never had the sensation before this. Just hope once I return home it will quickly stop.

  26. Emily says:

    This has never happened to me after a long plane flight, but it happens to me after cruises. I feel like I’m still rocking even though I’m not on water anymore. It’s like my body needs a few days to realize it’s on steady land! Very odd. Kind of like that feeling when you get off a treadmill and still feel like you’re moving.

    • Anil P. says:

      I wonder what triggers the brain to say, “ok, back to land now”…the treadmill one happens to me too. The funny thing is if you run on land after, for me, it feels like going twice as fast 😛

  27. wendy says:

    I have had mdds for 5 years now. It is life altering and takes a lot of courage to be able to cope with it on a daily basis. I only feel better when I am travelling in the car. I noticed feeling like this when I last went on holiday to Ibiza 5 years ago. I floated on a lilo in the sea and the next day noticed that I was still moving and have felt like this ever since. Some days are not as bad as others but driving at 40mph everywhere has helped with the swaying sensation on getting out of the car.

  28. Maira says:

    I had that landsickness for the first time without even traveling on a boat/plane/etc. It was during university and started happening for no reason. It lasted weeks, maybe even 2 months. I remember how annoying it was, I just wanted it to stop!!!!

    After throughly examining me (including cat-scanning my brain) and finding nothing wrong, my doctor concluded it was due to stress, combined with some other (light) medical issues that I have (low blood pressure, reactive hypoglicemia, allergy and an inflammation on the skin inside my right ear).

    The only thing that made it stop was medication for labirinthitis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinthitis).

    After that episode, however, whenever I fly, drive (even if just for 30 min), walk for more than 30 min on the treadmill, I get “landsickness”.

    I don’t feel dizzy during those events (just like other people mentioned), it only happens **after**.

    It also happens when I’m hungry (due to my reactive hypoglicemia, that lowers my blood pressure even more that it already is, and less blood on my ear inflammation makes the inner ear confused – something like that).

    Reading some wikipedia articles about this, they mention that getting back in motion helps it stop. So I tried rocking my body sideways (since while reading the articles I got hungry and started getting a bit dizzy) and it worked!

    I guess my points are (and I’m trying to help other people here):
    – Look for other health conditions that might affect your inner ear and try to control them.
    – Try moving your body to simulate the rocking movement that it thinks is happening.

    • Anil P. says:

      Maira, thank you do much for adding your experiences here. I think many people go through serious land sickness but it’s not well diagnosed or understood. Hearing your advice and story may hopefully make other people get through the little known condition.

    • Yavon says:

      Wow it’s amazing to read so many stories. I went on a cruise for the first time for 7 days. Never had sea sickness in my entire life but as soon as I got off the boat on day 5 I noticed I couldn’t walk straight. I just wanted to get back on the boat. Once we got home I had it for an entire month. I remember how miserable it was. It was hard to get any work done and I was so tired when I got home from work everyday that I went straight to bed after dinner. I travel a lot every year and have been fortunate that I have never gotten sick while flying. Thanks for all the information and keep us posted…

  29. anjuli says:

    maybe I’m immune to this from having traveled so much from the time I was young- kinda like an immunization :) This was sooo intriguing though because I know many women who have experienced this and now I have an explanation to give to them- plus some suggestions!!

    • Cathy H says:

      I have traveled and been on boats all my life, skied, biked, swimming, horseback riding, you name it and I’ve done it. There is no known cause for MdDS (or landsickness (which typically only last a few days to a few weeks) in others) and why people get it. MdDS can happen from any type of motion event, including cruises, boating, planes, trains, cars, hiking, skiing, tennis and even spontaneously. The brain gets stuck thinking it’s in motion and continues to send a signal to the inner ear (vestibular system). This is not an inner ear problem however. It occurs mostly in women but as we raise awareness we are also finding many men who have this condition. Cathy H

  30. Sherry Ott says:

    feeling wobbly after getting off a plane = too many little airplane-sized bottles of vodka!
    I’ve never had a problem with plane travel – but certainly with long sailing trips!

  31. Bethany says:

    Yup, I definitely get this but usually not after a flight. I used to get seasick a lot but living on a boat has really helped with that!

    Also when I first got the sailboat I constantly felt like I was moving on land. It was so weird! But I enjoyed it. Now that I am on the boat almost all the time I don’t get the sensations as much and I don’t get sick when we take it out anymore.

    I think it is kind of a cool sensation though.

    However I do get car sick all the time, especially if I have to look down and pick something up off the floor during a long car ride. That is a feeling that really sucks.

    • Anil P. says:

      The land sickness can be fun from time to time :) The bouncing is like being drunk without drinking or the hangover…sort of.

      • hassaan says:

        Thank God you posted about this article dude,I just flew a total of 17.5 hours plus 9 hours of waiting at airports so when i landed and got into the shower i thought i was losing my mind lol..it was pretty scary until you mentioned that other people suffer from this too and that it could last for days cuz its been 14 hours now since i landed and im still pretty bouncy and dizzy..Hope it goes away soon enough..

        • Anil P. says:

          For most people it goes away within days – and that’s a lot of flying you’ve done recently. Hopefully with rest you’ll be back to your steady old self soon :)

  32. Eli says:

    This is funny. For some reason I can’t ever remember experiencing this sensation. Maybe for a minute or two after, but never a few hours later. It happens more after getting off a boat, but it usually subsides pretty quickly.

  33. As I sit here, just having returned from a boat trip, the rooms is still swaying slightly

  34. I’ve never experienced this, but happy to receive the info. One day I might!

  35. Alex.Northey says:


    I experienced this for the first time around a month ago. I travelled from the UK to Turkey, around a 4.5 hour flight. I will point out that I fly all the time and have never experienced this before. I have also been on plenty of boats and never experieced this.

    I was fine when I got off the aircraft, taxi ride to the hotel was fine. I was even fine when I first reached the Hotel (Around 3 hours after landing). I went up to the room, had a drink of water and then got ready for a quick walk to the beach. I got in the lift as we were on the 4th floor. As soon as I got out of the lift, it felt tlike ever step I took my foot was sinking into the ground. This started to freak me out a bit and with me being with my family (I didn’t want to tell them what was going on).

    We then had a quick drink in the bar befre heading off to the beach. I had to it there for around 15 minutes, waiting for everyone to finish their drinks. It felt as if I was on a boat. We then started our walk to the beach, and the rocking feeling seemed to vanish.

    When we got back to the hotel, I decided to take te stairs instead of the lift. As soon as I started walking up the steps the bobbing/rocking feeling came back. It then vanished when I got to the top of the stairs. Got to the room and sat down. As soon as I sat down it came back. I had to keep walking aroud the room to stop the sensation.

    I found that I woke up feeling not too bad, but as the day went on the sensation became stronger. Also, if I played on a game on my Ipod, the sensation vanished completely, only to return as soon as I stopped playing the game. Also, I coldn’t go out onto the balcony. If I even looked out of the window the feeling came back. Here is a tip, it worke for me. When you are trying to sleep at night, don’t think about the dizziness. This harder to do than it sounds, but it does help. Also, try wriggling your body in bed, it gets rid of the sensation.

    The bobbing/rocking sensation lasted for around 5 days. I was dreading the return journey home, as I didn’t know if I would be able to stand in the airport waiting lines. Suprisingly I felt fine at the airport. The sensation returned about 2 hours after my flight home, although it felt a little different and it wasn’t as bad. Instead of a bobbing feeling, it felt like everytime my heart did a beat, I rocked from side to side. It wasn’t too strong, so it was bearable. This sensation went after around 2 days.

    It was a horrible experience, I’m only a 17 year old Male.

    Any questions, please ask :)

    • Anil P. says:

      Did you ever go to a doctor to confirm or rule out other causes (like inner ear infection, etc.)?

      • Alex.Northey says:

        No, although I think that may of been the cause of this. Never experienced it before and I fly more than the average person. I really feel sorry for the people who have this 24/7. It’s a horrible feeling.

  36. kirsten says:

    I always experience it not only after flights, but also really spinnt rides that I have been on… its such an inconvenience

  37. Paul says:

    I’ve just been to Spain for a week. I live in Devon in the UK so the flight was only 2-2.5 hours. I experienced this bouncing sensation for the whole time I was there, most noticeably when standing still and for some reason very prominent in the shower. Its still going now three days after flying back. I recall having this after flying when younger but not sure it lasted this long. Anil, I noticed you mentioned you get this for a few days after flying, how long does it normally take to disappear for you? Thanks in advance.

  38. Happymama says:

    Hi, I have MdDS when I’ve been sailing. I can sit in a kitchen and watch the walls swinging from side to side. As a child I noticed having this feeling after getting off lifts, too. THe floor under me would carry on moving as I walked away.

    If you have MdDS you are rarely travel sick. I’ve never been travel sick. Nice to be immune!

    I found out somewhere last year (can’t find it now, of course, perhaps in New Scientist) that people who suffer MdDS also often have the ability to play computer games in their head, there is a link. Known as the Tetris Effect, I think. Some people do it when they want – I can play Tetris, Crack Attack, or do Jigsaws as I’ve recently found this morning after doing several in one go on my laptop. I actually saw the jigsaw shapes imprinted on what I was looking at for a few moments this morning. Very spooky. I get it if I do too much of a game. Some very poor people end up locked into a visual replay of their game that lasts for months and intrudes on their lives terribly. This would be a hard thing to live with!

    So, I now need to find something else to do, no jigsaw puzzles for a while. Any NS subscribers could go and have a hunt on the New Scientist site for the info. I’m sure it was there.

    After a 2 day trog up and down the Solent a year or two ago I drove back to Co Durham ok but sitting in the house was interesting for about a day after.

    • Anil P. says:

      Very interesting, though the Tetris Effect is somewhere different. It’s when doing something over and over causes it to appear in other thoughts and aspects of life. You begin making connections to the event your mind is focused on.

  39. Donna Hull says:

    I’ve only experienced this after returning from long cruises. The floor of my house seems to tilt for several days and then the sensation disappears.

    • Anil P. says:

      For me it happens usually after flights with annoying little falling sensations every now and again. The water from a shower makes it worse for some reason but it too passes within a few days. I don’t get seasick though – and based on your cruise posts I guess you don’t too much either :)

  40. Rebecca says:

    I’m so glad to find out what I’m experiencing has a name! I flew to see a friend for a week, and experienced the bouncy feeling for the whole week. During the week we also rode roller coasters at an amusement park and went to the beach, so I’m sure those things didn’t help the problem! Last night I flew home, and I feel worse than ever. So far this has been going on for 8 days… hopefully it will go away soon!

    BTW, I’ve never had this problem before, so I’m not sure why it’s started now. I didn’t feel stressed out during the flight… I always have trouble with my ears and the air pressure during flights, but this was the first time my ears really hurt during the flight. So maybe that has something to do with it?

    • KAREN THOMSON says:

      It is amazing how many others suffer with the bouncy feeling after travelling. Every year at Christmas I fly to Thailand from the UK and for a 3 week holiday, and I always have the bouncy feel after the flight. I always disappears after a few hours or a good nights sleep. I dont like flying because of the bouncy feeling after the flight and have a fear of sickness so I take a travel drug called Sturgeron for the journey to help with this. However, when I travelled when I was pregnant I couldn’t take the drug and used the wrist bands instead. I noticed that without taking the drugs I didn’t have the bouncy feeling when I arrived in Bangkok. So I now only take half of the travel tablet for the journey and strangely I dont get the bouncy feeling so much. I think the drug increases the bouncy feeling. I still take half the tablet because I have a phobia of being sick so I think it helps me psychologically !!!!! I am wondering if anyone else takes travel tablets and still get the bouncy feeling ….

    • Anil P. says:

      According to everything I’ve read about MdDS, it can come out of nowhere; although I’m guessing in your case you’re having some because off all the combined bouncing lately :) Hopefully you’re symptoms will begin to disappear over the next few days.

    • Jeanne Driscoll says:


      I’m not 100% sure but ammusement parks are the second largest trigger for this illness and then plane. I know cruises are the number 1 reason and just to let you also know that I have collected a lot of panels both male & female from all over the US = All told panels were normal and after Hormone Specialist Looked it over Not a one hormonally intact.

  41. motownmutt says:

    Sailed a lot as a youngster, and would feel the sensation for a day or two after long trips. Like someone else mentioned, it didn’t bother me, I found it amusing.

    I feel for the people that this is a chronic problem.

    Spent 10 hours kayaking yesterday, much of it into the wind in choppy water. It just hit me and I wondered if there was a name for it, which is how I came by this post today. Thanks for the info.

    • Anil P. says:

      After a long flight I usually have the sensation for a few days after which lead me to researching this further. Glad I could help shed some light on a little know chronic condition. Hope your bouncy sensations are over from kayaking :)

  42. Jeanne Driscoll says:


    Hi my name is Jeanne Driscoll and I had this illness for 21 months and was 100% cured with Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy. After 21 months of getting shoulder shrugs from a lot of people in the medical world, I had always suspected there is a hormone connection. My Doctor gave me a complete Blood Hormone Panel and found that my Hormones hit the floor and we believe that this hormone imbalance triggered off a Migraine Varient, I had a silent migraine (no pain). We have a protocol that is written up and I think it’s a very reasonable theory that this can happen due to a stress related/motion event/stress with sudden onset also. This is not a one size fits all illness there are some people that have this that having ringing in the ear/ear fullness with nausea everyday and a basiliar migraine has the exact same symptoms. If you want to get in touch with me please do but I will not post anymore info publically on this article but I have some very intersting information to share if you would like to get in touch with me.

    Thank You,

    Jeanne Driscoll

    • K Mauto says:

      Jeanne, it would be wonderful to be able to talk to you via email or whatever you feel most comfortable with.
      I could use really use your advise and insight.

    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Jeanne,

      You don’t have a link or publication you can point us to for more information?

      • Jeanne Driscoll says:


        Sure I do but I don’t like the label of my former illness, I believe it’s a stress/motion related incident or sudden onset due to stress and I will leave the Theory as it has been written just to show you. I don’t like labels and I believe this theory could help a lot of people male/female with dizziness/vertigo/migraine/hormone imbalance etc.

        here it is as it was written originally

        Theory on Mal de Debarquement Syndrome Created by Dr. Charlotte J Richards/another sufferer with this Illness and her patient who is me …
        Protocol for Identifying and Correcting the Hormonal Contribution to Mal de Debarquement Syndrome

        Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (hereafter referred to as MdDS) has previously been a disorder that has no known cause or cure. MdDS usually follows a prolonged travel / motion experience and is defined by the following symptoms.

        Vestibular symptoms include: disequilibrium, consisting of such sensations as rocking, swaying, bobbing, lurching, rolling, floating, and non-specific dizziness, light-headedness or wooziness. Some sufferers also complain of profound rotational vertigo as well.

        Visual symptoms include: sensitivity to light (photophobia), visual gaze stabilization difficulties such as bouncing, shimmering, and swaying vision (possible oscillopsia), symptoms of migraine visual auras, such as rings, strings, visual snow, intolerances of busy or bright patterns, double images, halos, etc.

        Auditory symptoms include: tinnitus, aural fullness and pain, sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), and muffled hearing.

        Other symptoms noted are: nausea, feelings of disorientation, trouble concentrating (usually described as “brain fog”), confusion, ataxia, fatigue, migraine and other headaches, also feelings of gravitational pulls in their bodies (or body parts) aka “g forces”, and head pressure.

        Due to the severity of these symptoms and their prolonged course, some diagnosed with MdDS also present with depression and anxiety.

        MdDS occurs more frequently in: individuals with some provoking movement event such as a flight or cruise and occurs most often in women between the ages of 40 and 50, but also found in men and younger women as well.

        MdDS is similar to : Migraine Associated Vertigo, but it is different because of its characterized symptoms of virtually a continuous sensation of movement or rocking as opposed to episodic events of true rotational vertigo seen in MAV, usually the sufferer receives improvement or total lack of symptoms when back in passive motion.

        Migraine is a neurological disorder defined by many of the symptoms shared with MdDS. It is our hypothesis that MdDS is a variant of migraine or at least that migraine sufferers are more likely to develop this disorder. Hormones are not only localized to effects on our reproductive systems, however their effects can be felt through our entire bodies especially due to the effects that they have on neurotransmitters in the brain. We believe that hormone fluctuations can bring about and prolong migraine equivalents, which cause changes in multiple brain neurotransmitters, leading to a state of brain “hyper-excitability”, which then leads to changes in regulation of brain blood flow. Migraine can affect two different areas in our bodies that are responsible for balance and equilibrium; the inner ear and brain stem. Both are responsible for balance mechanisms and perceptions of movement. It is also our belief that since most of MdDS sufferers are predominantly women in perimenopausal or menopausal age that the disorder could have a significant link with hormones. Note that any type of migraine activity can be brought on or exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations. Many of the same symptoms shared by sufferers of MdDS directly correlate with the fluctuations in hormone levels that are associated with perimenopause and menopause. Also note, that age is not a factor to experience the symptoms of hormone fluctuations. Young women can be perimenopausal based on their hormone profiles. It has also been found that some women develop spontaneous (without travel or motion) episodes of MdDS after birth or other major hormonal shifts.

        Our treatment plan of MdDS hinges on the concept of treating the hormonal imbalances responsible for triggering and maintaining prolonged migraine activity in the brain. We believe by correcting the underlying issue of hormonal fluctuations through Hormone Replacement Therapy that it may be possible to stop migrainous activity in the brain thus bringing a cessation of MdDS symptoms.

        The treatment plan Involves taking several blood hormone panels and upon examination deciding the particular course of Hormone Replacement Therapy appropriate for the individual. This is not a “quick fix”. Adjustments will be made periodically and after several blood panels done in order to attain the best possible outcome for the individual patient. It may be necessary to address several particular hormones in conjunction or one at a time depending upon the individual patient needs. By balancing hormones, we believe brain neuro-transmitters will be in proper functionality thus ceasing migrainous activity in the brain and possibly bringing cessation of MdDS symptoms.


        Hain TC, Hanna PA, Rheinberger MA. Mal de Debarquement. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999;125:615-620.
        Cha, Y. H., J. Brodsky, et al. (2008). “Clinical features and associated syndromes of mal de debarquement.” J Neurol 255(7): 1038-44.
        Cha, Y. H. (2009). “Mal de debarquement.” Semin Neurol 29(5): 520-527.
        Brown JJ, Baloh RW. Persistent mal de debarquement syndrome: a motion-induced subjective disorder of balance. American Journal of Otolaryngology. 1987;8:219-22.
        David Buchholz, M.D. Heal Your Headache. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2002

        Jeanne Driscoll JD is a 48 yo gravida 0 female, presenting with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome for 21
        months, since a 1hour sailboat ride. She was diagnosed in November 2009 with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She has had two previous episodes of MdDS symptoms from a 6 hour flight and a 5 day cruise. Her
        symptoms were severe rocking, difficulty concentrating, bobbing and floating sensations, feeling disoriented, sensitivity to light and sounds, dizziness, heavy head/body gravity pulls (silent migraine). She reported being symptom free during a car ride or other motion. Audiograms were normal. PMHX:ADD with memory loss , hypertension, slightly elevated cholesterol, hypothyroidism, remote concussion.

        Neurological Exam Notes from MEEI: only notable for moderate difficulty performing tandem walk: tandem toe touch with eyes open: moderate. Her prior neurologist treated her symptoms with citalopram and clonazepam. She stopped that particular treatment because she became more fatigued, drowsy, and emotionless.

        Treatment: Upon our first appointment together on January 19, 2011 and hearing her list of symptoms also noted on the MdDS brochure she presented to me, I suspected that her testosterone was low and she was not hormonally intact. I suggested the patient stop norethinedrone/ethinyl estradiol 1/35 and have a complete blood hormone panel done. The results of her first panel demonstrated low estradiol, low vitamin d levels, low testosterone, low free testosterone with normal TSH and prolactin. For treatment, she was given compounded DHEA 25mg/ day, transdermal estradiol 0.5 mg/day, prometrium 100 mg/day, and duloxetine 30/mg day. Patient reported after weeks of initial treatment that her symptoms were much lighter, but not cured. I suggested she have a repeat hormone panel done in March 2011. Twelve weeks after beginning treatment her blood levels were: estradiol 23pg/ml, DHEAS 4.7 ng/ml, free testosterone .4 mg/dl; total testosterone 25 ng/dl. All of which would be considered to be low normal in a perimenopausal female, certainly not pharmacological. She was given Vitamin D3 1000 mg gel caps daily. The patient continued with the same dosage of duloxetine 30 mg/day. Her dosage of DHEA was changed to 25 mg of compounded cream and 25 mg of compounded oral DHEA. We decided to up her dosage of compound bio-Identical progesterone to 20 mg/ml twice per day. Patient became symptom-free a week after dosages were changed. Patient did not disclose this information to the doctor for 2 weeks because she wanted to make sure she was in full remission before reporting the results.

        This represents the first time that a patient with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome has been
        successfully treated through hormone replacement therapy, and that it points to hormonal migraine as a plausible etiology or exacerbating factor.

        Upon my patient’s remission from MdDS symptoms, she suggested to several others in her MdDS support group, that they obtain complete hormone blood panels from their doctors. Patient has reported to me that out of all 20 MdDS sufferers who obtained complete blood hormone panels, that not one of them was hormonally intact

        • Jeanne Driscoll says:

          BTW…I went off the Cymbalta because when your hormones are intact it stops the migraines! I take Vitamin D3/Magnesium/Iron/Multi-Vitamin and I’m 100% after 3 months of tweaking my BHRT, everytime the symptoms got lighter and it went off like a switch!

          My former illness says no cure but you can go into remission out of nowhere but I think when you hear something that has no cure it affects you more then you think! Most important you must get a specialist if anybody that does BHRT because most doctor’s can’t read a panel. I can’t say BHRT is for everyone but what’s a blood test and at least people will know if they are hormonally intact or not and then start the process of elimination to try another route. This protocol is for the people that want another option and we are responsible for our health and whatever way you want to treat this is a personal choice.

  43. Gourmantic says:

    Never from a long haul flight and I’ve had plenty of those! I do however experience a similar feeling after being on a boat for a little while. Cruises don’t interest me but I’d imagine it would feel similar.

    • Anil P. says:

      I get it with boats as well but there the ‘bounce’ in much gentler. Airplane land sickness bounces for me are much sharper – either way it’s annoying isn’t it!

  44. Jeanne Driscoll says:

    Anil P
    44 (forty four) of us took a pay out of pocket test and found out it’s Lyme disease
    it’s not your average joe test it’s $260 and trust me it’s better to now then later.
    These faux syndromes and foundations are just trying to squeeze people for $$$
    The CDC came out and told us that they made a huge mistake and not 30 thousand cases each year they’re reporting 300 thousand cases ..I think it’ millions ..follow the $$$

    • Jeanne Driscoll says:

      We now have 62 in a row that were diagnosed with MdDS/MAV that tested positive for Lyme.
      Some got lucky with the ELISA test and others did the Western Blot with IgG/IgM with titer counts/antibodies and Igenex.

  45. Earl says:

    Interesting information. I used to work on board cruise ships for a few years and I would feel this land sickness from time to time while in the ports of call. But I recall feeling it more intensely whenever we completed a six-day transatlantic cruise. As soon as I got off the ship in the UK or NYC, I would just walk around for about 2-3 hours non-stop. If I sat down or stood still, I would feel the land sickness, but if I kept moving, it didn’t affect me as much.