World’s 15 Weirdest Diseases & Medical Conditions
The world is truly a hypochondriac’s nightmare, full of thousands upon thousands of painful and debilitating diseases and medical conditions, from the mundane to the highly unusual. But you don’t see these 15 disorders every day. Extremely rare and unbelievably bizarre, the world’s weirdest health issues range from ‘possessed’ hands that can’t be controlled to a metabolic disorder that makes sweat, urine and breath stink like putrefying fish.
Alien Hand Syndrome
(image via: film journal)
It’s the plot of a few horror movies, but also a very bizarre reality for some: hands with minds of their own that move and behave seemingly independent of the sufferer’s intentions. The ‘alien’ hands undo buttons, manipulate tools and even grope people without the awareness of those to whom the hands are attached. The individual has full sensation in the hand, but it seems ‘possessed’. It’s caused by a separation of the lobes of the brain whether through injury or surgery, and there’s no cure other than to distract the errant hand with an object to handle.
Bodies Turned to Stone
(image via: wikimedia commons)
Some people’s bodies are a little too proficient at healing injuries, going so far overboard as to turn a joint to stone. The extremely rare condition known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva involves a mutation of the body’s repair mechanism, which causes muscle, tendons and ligaments to ossify when damaged. For people with this medical condition, operations on their injuries will only cause additional bone growth. In the most extreme cases, patients may be rendered completely immobile within decades.
Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome
(image via: mapbutcher)
Imagine having 200+ orgasms each and every day – not just in the privacy of your own home, but on the train, in meetings at work and at dinner with your parents. As opposed to hypersexuality, persistent sexual arousal syndrome is more physical than psychological and is usually detached from sexual desire. One study connected the disorder to restless leg syndrome. There’s no known effective cure.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
(image via: jackieleigh)
When objects appear much small or larger than they should – like dogs the size of mice, or ladybugs as big as a house – you’re either on drugs or experiencing Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, a temporary condition that affects our perception of the world around us. Sometimes associated with migraines and often occurring at the edge of sleep, the disturbances affect sense of size, depth and even time. Doctors believe that it may involve the brain’s occipital lobe, which controls visual information.
Exploding Head Syndrome
(image via: joseph gray)
If the jarring sound of an explosion wakes you up in the middle of the night, it’s usually because a transformer blew or your cat knocked over some dishes. But for some people, hearing such sounds is an everyday occurrence – and it’s all in their heads. People with Exploding Head Syndrome hear all kinds of racket in the night, startling them out of a deep sleep. Such incidents are thought to be brought on by anxiety or extreme fatigue, and the condition is not associated with any physical ailment.
Walking Corpse Syndrome
(image via: dan hollister duck)
Walking Corpse Syndrome isn’t just the name of a metal band. It’s an utterly mystifying phenomenon in which the afflicted person is convinced that he or she has died or lost some vital part of the body, but are still aware and walking the earth. Officially known as Cotard’s Syndrome, this mental illness can sometimes be brought about by a brain injury. Very rarely, people with Walking Corpse Syndrome believe they’re immortal and begin testing that theory, resulting in suicide.
Progeria – Accelerated Aging
(image via: wikimedia commons)
We all dread the symptoms of aging – baldness, wrinkles, losing our teeth. But sometimes, they come all too early. Children with the extremely rare disorder known as Progeria begin to look elderly before they’re even two years old, while maintaining age-appropriate intelligence. Sadly, most people affected by Progeria begin to suffer from the same ailments as the elderly including arthritis and cardiovascular disease and rarely live past the age of thirteen.
Foreign Accent Syndrome
Imagine waking up to find that you suddenly have a foreign accent, and it’s completely out of your control. Crazy as it sounds, Foreign Accent Syndrome is not just a pretentious affectation among people who want to sound exotic or sophisticated. This involuntary change in speech usually occurs after a brain injury like a stroke or head trauma, although in at least one case it seems to have been caused by a severe migraine. The specific way in which speech is affected varies in each individual, making it sound as if the person has an accent specific to a particular area of the world.
Aquagenic Urticaria – Allergy to Water
(image via: metro)
Being allergic to substances like milk or peanuts is difficult enough – but imagine breaking out in painful, burning welts every time your skin was touched by water. That’s daily life for people with Aquagenic Urticaria, who are allergic to water in all forms – even tears. One British woman with this highly unusual condition can’t even hold her son because if he sweats, she “gets covered in sore lumps.” “I am a prisoner in my own body,” Michaela Dutton told The Metro. “I don’t see friends because they wrongly think it’s contagious.”
Cold Urticaria – Allergy to Cold Temperatures
(image via: wikimedia commons)
Almost everybody gets goosebumps in cold weather, but breaking out in hives is another matter altogether. People with cold urticaria are actually allergic to cold temperatures. Most people with this condition only get mildly itchy when it’s cold, while others suffer from severe welts on any part of the body exposed to cold, including the mouth and throat when cold beverages are consumed. Some people with severe cold urticaria can’t go swimming, because cool water temperatures could cause them to go into shock and drown.
Congenital Insensitivity to Pain
(image via: dadjanda)
A word without pain sounds great, right? Except that it would be a complete disaster. Just ask anyone afflicted with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain. Sure, they’re immune to torture and won’t ever complain of a toothache or a sprained ankle, but for children in particular, this disorder often results in debilitating injuries. It’s all too easy to scratch your eye, burn yourself, bite off the tip of your tongue or walk around on a broken bone oblivious to the problem. The condition is caused by either large amounts of endorphins in the brain, or congenital mutations that dull pain-sensing neurons.
Human Werewolf Syndrome
(image via: mental floss)
How much body hair is considered abnormal? It’s generally subjective, but for people with severe Hypertrichosis, hair grows profusely in all sorts of unusual places, leaving no question that something unusual is going on. Sometimes referred to as “human werewolf syndrome”, severe hypertrichosis involves excessive hair growth all over the body which grows back even after laser treatments. Only about 50 living people are currently known to have this condition.
Tree Bark Skin Disorder
(image via: popfi)
People go to great lengths to get rid of a single wart. What if your entire body were covered in them? That’s reality for the few people in the world who have ‘Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis‘, a hereditary skin disorder in which skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) spread out of control. One of the most severe cases is that of Dede Koswara, an Indonesian Man who has been called “Tree Man”. 95% of his warts were removed in 2008, but most of them grew back, making it clear that he will require 2 surgeries a year for the rest of his life to keep them at bay.
Blue Skin Disorder
Skin comes in all colors – even shocking shades of blue and violet. For the Fugate family of Kentucky, blue skin was a hereditary trait that passed down from one generation to the next over 162 years due to a rare blood disorder called methemoglobinemia. Essentially, because blood is less oxygenated, it appears blue rather than red through the skin. Since the cause of the family’s disorder was discovered, all members carrying the gene have been treated and appear normal. But sometimes people get a strange blue tinge to their skin even without this affliction – argyria is a blue skin disorder associated with consumption of the health supplement colloidal silver.
Fish Odor Syndrome
(image via: joost j baker ijmuiden)
How would you like to walk around emitting insanely noxious odors, no matter how good your personal hygiene may be? People with trimethylaminuria, sometimes called ‘fish odor syndrome’, can’t control the very strong smells that are emitted through their sweat, urine and breath because their bodies don’t properly break down a fishy-smelling organic compound found in food. The smell is so strong that this rare disorder can be life-disrupting. There is no known treatment, but some people manage it through diet and antibiotics.