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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 16:12 GMT
Woman's four years of seasickness
Jane Houghton - picture courtesy of MEN Syndication
Jane Houghton was diagnosed six months after she went on holiday
A woman who went on a holiday cruise is still feeling seasick - four years after she returned home.

Jane Houghton, 41, from Warrington, Cheshire, suffers a rare condition which makes her dizzy and nauseous.

The symptoms started on the cruise to Majorca in 2001, but it was six months before Mrs Houghton was diagnosed with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS).

Mrs Houghton, who says her symptoms are "worse than ever", is raising awareness of the condition.

"I wake up and the room is see-sawing.

I naively thought there would be some miracle cure, some tablet I could take and make it all go away. There isn't
Jane Houghton

"It's just like being on the roughest seas imaginable in a little boat, you feel as if the ground is falling away from you."

It is not known what causes MdDS, but it is thought to be a failure of the inner ear to readapt correctly to stable ground after sea or air travel.

The symptoms appeared when Mrs Houghton, who has a teenage son, took breaks from the cruise.

She said: "In restaurants the tables would bob and weave about. I asked the others if they were experiencing the same feelings.

"They looked at me as if I was mad."

'Very disturbing'

Mrs Houghton wrote to experts in the USA and was eventually diagnosed at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

She is currently undergoing treatment from Andrew Clements, Specialist Physiotherapist at the Balance Centre at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

He says it is a very rare condition and is extremely hard to treat.

"It is very disturbing as it affects everything people do," he said.

"We're used to seeing people with imbalance problems and we usually try and find the cause of the problem and treat it.

"But with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome it is not as easy as that.

It is very disturbing as it affects everything people do
Andrew Clements
"Quite often a person can seem normal on the results of hospital tests," he added.

"When they've had it for a long time it can produce feelings of anxiety or panic."

Mrs Houghton could no longer cope with her full-time job as an office manager as much of her work involved sitting in front of a computer. Now she works two days a week.

"The sensation of being on rough seas was constant, no let up, even when lying down. Everyday tasks like using a computer, ironing, vacuuming, all increased the level of motion I felt."

"But, more than four years later, there is no improvement. If anything I am worse.

"I naively thought there would be some miracle cure, some tablet I could take and make it all go away. There isn't."

Now Mrs Houghton is trying to raise awareness of MdDS.

She said: "As there is no miracle cure, raising awareness is crucial in helping sufferers know that it isn't all in their head."




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