(Q) Mar 11, 2010
I got back from Mexico yesterday, was diving there for 3 days. Didn’t have any problems. After the 3 days of diving I felt like on a boat constantly and still feel like it. I have a light headache as well. Please tell me if I should go to the doctor. Is that normal? I noticed I have a high temperature as well (37.8 Celsius degrees) and feel like I have flu.”
(A) Mar 12, 2010
The condition described could be what is called “reverse seasickness,” “land sickness” or “mal de debarquement,” although it typically takes more than just 3 days of land-based diving to trigger this unpleasant malady.
DAN has the following to say about land sickness: “And what about the reverse of sea sickness: sickness on land? It does happen. After you have finished that 10-day ‘trip of a lifetime’ aboard a liveaboard and have stepped onto solid ground, you may suddenly feel funny and maybe even sick. What happened? ‘Land sickness’ occurs when you return to dry land after becoming adapted to an environment in constant motion. Your brain has become accustomed to the new input from increased motion. Suddenly, the motion stops. The abrupt change will promptly produce the same symptoms as originally felt upon going to sea.”
Mal de debarquement, technically a more serious and longer lasting condition, is discussed here:
Mal de Debarquement, or “MDD,”
Alternatively, middle or inner ear barotruama or inner ear DCS also can manifest with a similar sensation, but typically involve other symptoms as well, such as decreased hearing, ear discomfort, vertigo or tinnitus.
Given a fever of 37.8C/100F and feelings of having the flu, my guess is that the sensation described is related to an infection of the inner ear, such as viral labyrinthitis, that results in feelings of disequilibrium.
It would be wise to consult an ENT if matters don’t improve in a day or two.
This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual, and should not be construed as such.