DEAR DR. ROACH: My family and I took a seven-day cruise more than six weeks ago. I still am feeling like I am on the ship -- all day, it feels as though I am walking on a swinging bridge. I did not even notice the movement while on the ship, nor did I get sick. I did not take any motion-sickness medicine while on the cruise. No one else in my family is having this problem. I am a 50-year-old female.
Is there any treatment for this? What kind of doctor would I see? How long would you expect this to last? --T.S.
ANSWER: You have the classic symptoms of disembarkment syndrome, also called mal de debarquement. Whereas most people getting off a boat or ship will have the sensation of moving for a few hours, in people with this syndrome, the symptoms may continue for months or even years. It seems to be more likely in women, and may have an association with migraine headache. Interestingly, going back on a boat can make it better in the short term, but worse later.
One treatment is clonazepam, which provides some short-term relief. Standard treatments for vertigo usually do not help. Fortunately, most cases do get better after some weeks or months, but 18 percent still have symptoms even a year later. An expert in balance problems, often an ENT doctor, would be most likely to be familiar with this condition.
The booklet on vertigo explains dizziness in detail and outlines its treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach -- No. 801W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I look down in the toilet and see that my urine is white and foamy. What is this, what causes it, and is there anything I can do? -- A.V.R.
ANSWER: Foamy urine raises concern of excess protein. High amounts of protein in the urine could result from nephrotic syndrome, an indication of a serious kidney condition. Any doctor can do a urine test for protein; if it's positive, your doctor will have you collect all the urine you make in 24 hours to see how much protein there is.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I'm wondering about the commercials regarding eating ice cream. The way they sound, it's OK to eat it without fear of fat. I'm a male in his 70s, in fine health, and I am wondering if eating it is fine, but just once in a while. Thank you. -- A.A.
ANSWER: Ice cream has more saturated fat and sugar than is good for you. People who want to be super-healthy don't eat ice cream at all. However, I am a believer that it's OK to indulge yourself once in a while in something that might not be the healthiest for you. Just make sure it's something closer to once a month than it is to once a day.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.