Can You Get Vertigo On A Cruise?

vertigo, can tight neck muscles cause dizziness

Recently, the CDC released new guidelines for cruise ships for this pandemic. Many people in the US expect to see cruise liners welcoming tourists on board sooner than later. It’s quite an exciting news for wanderlust travelers, even those who suffer from seasickness. With that in mind, we thought of tackling two common questions of some patients, “can you get vertigo while on a cruise?” and “can tight neck muscles cause dizziness?”

Let’s investigate the two topics and your possible options for relief so you can still enjoy a pleasant cruise trip. 

Vertigo During a Cruise Trip – Is it Possible?

It’s no secret that vertigo can arise from all sorts of health problems. However, not a lot of people know that it can stem from boat travel too. Doctors refer to this condition as Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS). It’s a prevalent problem that affects healthy individuals who recently boarded a boat, ship, or yacht. Essentially, this condition causes you to feel lingering rocking motions even when you’re back on land. 

Unlike in other types of vertigo-causing health conditions, MdDS doesn’t require head movements to get triggered. Most patients with MdDS often experience periodic vertigo and dizziness. The symptoms can last for days and disappear completely after your body recovers. However, it’s also likely for the symptoms to stop, then recur after several weeks, depending on other factors.  

MdDs vs Motion Sickness: Are They Different?

Besides MdDs, many people struggle to keep their balance during their trip because of motion sickness. Interestingly, many people think that these two conditions refer to the same thing. In truth, they are quite different from each other.

Imagine the world won't stop rocking, even when you're on solid ground. That persistent swaying and bobbing sensation is the reality for people with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS). It can feel like the aftermath of a long sea voyage that never ends, and it's often mistaken for lingering motion sickness.

But even regular motion sickness can be incredibly disruptive. That feeling of nausea, the dizziness that makes the world spin – it can make the simplest journey feel like a grueling ordeal. The constant battle to keep your balance and composure can be exhausting.

Whether you're facing the persistent rocking of MdDS or the temporary discomfort of motion sickness, know this: you're not alone. Understanding the differences between these conditions is the first step towards finding relief.

Vertigo Attacks Due to A Vestibular Problem 

Have you ever wondered how your body picks up changes in motion or balance? Why do people who have vertigo attacks sense false movements? The explanation lies in the coordination between the group of tiny organs tucked inside the inner ears we refer to as the vestibular system and other body parts like your eyes, muscles, and joints. Let's take a closer look at the balance system and motor output:

The Balance System and Motor Output

When you are in balance it means you are maintaining the body’s center of mass over its base of support. If your balance system is working well, you will have no problem moving about in your environment. Balance is possible thanks to a complex system including input from your eyes, touch, movement, and motor output to the eyes and body muscles. We are going to take a closer look at motor output and see how it works. If injury or disease affects any of these systems, your balance will be negatively impacted.

Motor Output

Sensory integration takes place when information reaches the brain via the eyes, muscles and joints, and vestibular organs. If this information does not match with what the brain thinks the body is doing, vertigo can ensue. Motor output happens after sensory integration. The brainstem sends impulses from the brain to the muscles that control the eyes, the head and neck, the trunk, and the legs. This helps you to maintain your balance and have clear vision while on the move.

Motor output to the muscles and joints

Babies learn to walk and keep their balance by practice and repetition. Impulses travels from the sensory receptors to the brainstem and then to the muscles forming a new pathway in the brain. It becomes easier and easier for these impulses to travel on this pathway as the baby walks over and over again. This is referred to as facilitation, and it helps the baby maintain balance during any activity. There is evidence to support the fact that this type of synaptic activity continues to occur throughout a person’s lifetime depending on what type of environment he or she is in. It is the reason why athletes practice so vigorously and why dancers perform their moves over and over to perfect them. After a while, even a move once difficult to achieve becomes routine as the brain forms established pathways.

What does all of this mean? If a problem occurs with one of your sensory inputs (eyes, touch, movement, and motor output), this process of facilitation can help the balance system reset itself and work at achieving balance once again. However, if something is continuously hindering this system from proper function, additional help may be required.

The eyes

The vestibular system (located in the inner ear) sends motor control signals through the nervous system to the muscles of the eyes using an automatic function referred to as the vestibulo-ocular reflex or VOR. So, imagine your head is not moving. Then the number of signals your brain is getting from the right side of the vestibular organs is the same amount from the left side. However, when your head turns to look at something to the right of you, the number of signals from the right ear increases and the number from the left ear decreases. This difference in signals is responsible for eye movements and keeping your gaze still during active head motion.

The Balance System and Vertigo

As you can see from this information, the human balance system is very complicated. It relies on feedback from a number of sources, any of which can be damaged or disrupted due to injury, disease, or simply getting older. If your balance system is not working properly, you may have dizziness, vertigo, visual disturbances, nausea, concentration problems, and fatigue. Because this system is so complex, it makes diagnosing and caring for conditions of the balance system very difficult. But, that is no reason to lose hope. There is an area of care seeing great success in caring for its vertigo patients.

If you get diagnosed with any vestibular condition and plan to go on a cruise trip, we strongly recommend making enough preparations for possible vertigo episodes. You can head to your doctor to get a prescription for the dizzying or spinning sensations. Alternatively, you can minimize exposure to common vertigo or dizziness triggers.  

What Can Trigger Vertigo Episodes?

Avoiding vertigo triggers may come in handy when you’re on a cruise trip. Some examples of these triggers include:

1. Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can affect both your mental and physical well-being. That’s why when you’re stressed out or anxious, you experience physical symptoms like sweating profusely or experiencing a vertigo episode. Both mental health problems can also cause the cervical muscles to tighten. 

When the neck muscles tighten, they can affect nearby tissues such as nerve roots and your brainstem. Consequently, this can lead to bouts of spinning sensations. This means that the answer to the question “can tight neck muscles cause dizziness?” is yes.

2. Failing to drink enough water 

Dehydration can impact your blood pressure levels. If you don’t get enough water into your system, your blood pressure plummets, affecting the flow of nutrients into essential parts of the body such as the brain. This, in effect, can cause vertigo or dizziness. 

3. Having a Vitamin B12 Deficiency 

Vitamin B12 keeps the blood cells in good shape. As a result, when you have a B12 deficiency, you can suffer from poor blood circulation. This problem often escalates and affects various systems such as your central nervous system. If you have a B12 deficiency, we recommend addressing it right away with food supplements or eating food rich in vitamin B12.

4. Experiencing frequent migraine attacks 

Some patients who frequently struggle with migraine episodes also experience spinning or dizzying sensations. Doctors refer to this specific type of migraine as vestibular migraines. If you observe both symptoms during an attack, it means you’re among the 1 percent of the population who has vestibular migraines.

5. Having MdDs or Mal de Debarquement Syndrome  

Although anyone can experience MdDS symptoms, it’s more prevalent in individuals who frequently travel by sea. Some professionals at risk of developing MdDS include people who go on several cruise trips, cruise staff, and ship crew. 

6. Having an upper cervical misalignment

The cervical bones or neck bones can sometimes shift from their neutral and original position. When this happens, they can apply pressure on surrounding tissues like the brainstem or nerve bundles. Essentially, the brainstem is a central nervous system component that bridges the gap between the brain and the rest of your body parts. It constantly transmits information back and forth so you can accurately perceive changes in balance and motion. If something goes wrong, you end up experiencing vertigo episodes. 


Upper Cervical Chiropractic – A Hope for People with MdDS 

Whether your dizzying spells or vertigo episodes stem from MdDs, vestibular disorders, or other underlying health concerns, upper cervical care can help you experience relief. It’s a natural way to resolving debilitating symptoms like vertigo attacks. The approach mainly corrects the cervical bone alignment to ease pressure on the brainstem or other affected nervous system components. 

It also helps restore balance in your brainstem and prevent additional problems that may contribute to a vertigo episode, such as abnormal fluid buildup in the inner ear. 

If you’re planning on joining a cruise trip but worry that it might get affected by series of vertigo attacks, you can consult with an upper cervical chiropractor professional. Find a nearby upper cervical care practice today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.