Top 10 Strange Medical Conditions
Human beings may be one of the few species on the planet with the gift of self-consciousness; however this defends our plain biological constitution from the plague of illness in very few ways. Over our long history, epidemics have come and gone, some causing absolute devastation and others mere confusion. Today we shall look at 10 of the most peculiar illnesses that continue to affect our species.
10. Cotard’s Syndrome
Also known as Cotard’s delusion and, get this, ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome’- this illness causes the sufferer to take upon with full belief the certainty that they are in fact dead or dying inside. The affliction is thought to be mostly psychological, being attributed to head and brain trauma. Though it sounds like some kind of hoax brought on by the recent obsession with zombies in popular culture, the first reports of the disorder date from the 1880’s, when French neurologist Jules Cotard first described his encounter with a sufferer in a Paris lecture.
This one you may have heard of already, unless I’m mistaken- the illness seems to have garnered a fair amount of interest with documentarians in recent years. Attributed to a parasite brought about a particularly nasty breed of mosquito, ‘lymphatic filariasis’ or ‘elephantiasis’ as it is more commonly known- is quite a shocking condition. Once infected, it can take years for symptoms of the condition to form- during this time filarial worms infect the lymphatic system of the patient in their millions, eventually causing the uber-englargement of certain areas of the body- most commonly the limbs, breasts and genitals.
8. Periodic Paralysis
Exactly what it says on the tin, periodic paralysis acts to completely paralyse areas of/entire human bodies for a temporary period- with times ranging most commonly between a few hours and a few days. The condition is caused by failing ion channels in nerve cells which limit the omission of signals from the brain meaning limbs are unable to respond. Though it can be treated with regular exercise, periodic paralysis is, as of yet, completely un-curable.
7. Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis
Another condition which has come to light in recent years,’ Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis’ or, in its less Latin form ‘Tree Bark Skin Disorder’ is an ailment both beguiling and bizarre. As one of the rarest known genetic conditions on our planet, the skin disorder causes growths to form en-mass on the skin of the sufferer. As though this wasn’t bad enough, the wart like growths are pushed into overdrive by the human papilloma virus causing huge portions of the body of the afflicted to appear as though it were tree bark.
This rare, widely hereditary condition causes the skin of the sufferer to appear as though it were blue. Characterized by a higher than usual level of methemoglobin in the blood, the affliction causes dramatic alteration in the complexion of the carriers skin. Other symptoms of the ailment include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue and exercise intolerance.
This is a condition which, as you can see above, causes the untameable growth of bodily hair across all kinds of bizarre and unusual parts of the human body to grow hair. Known by those perhaps less sensitive as ‘human werewolf syndrome’, sufferers of the hereditary affliction are few and far between- with only around 50 known cases in the world at present. Though respected with far more professional medical scrutiny nowadays, in the circus freak shows of the 18th and 19th centuries, it wasn’t uncommon to come across a sufferer of this most strange condition.
Trimethylaminuria, or ‘fish odor syndrome’ is an infrequent metabolic disorder that causes, through the deficiency of certain enzymes, its sufferers to emit excess levels of trimethylamine, in turn causing them to smell strongly of fish or, if you’re lucky, just really bad BO. It’s all very scientific (as illnesses tend to be) but this trimethylamine is an organic compound which is tackled by aforementioned enzymes during digestion. So, when the body is unable to break the trimethylamine down in the usual way, the compound is instead released in the urine, saliva and sweat of the person who has the deficiency- which, as you can imagine, makes for a rather inescapable and intense smell.
3. Foreign Accent Syndrome
Though probably one of the most utterly annoying things any one human being can do for no just cause, an unjustified change in accent can sometimes be attributed to a peculiar condition which is, apparently, completely legitimate. Usually brought on by some kind of brain trauma, such as a stroke or haemorrhage, there have been several cases throughout history which document a patient’s unaccountable change in spoken accent. As well as accents, there have even been reported cases which document a patient awaking from a coma following a head injury with a new found mastery of a completely foreign language. Weird.
Perhaps the most tragic of the conditions covered in this list, Progeria causes the accelerated aging of those who suffer from it. Although it is rare (an estimated 1 out of every 8,000,000 people are born with the condition) it is none the less destructive- often killing sufferers before they reach their 20’s. The ailment is caused by a malformation in body cell nucleus’s which causes an untimely lapse in their ageing process. Effectively, Progeria causes a child to age at a sonic rate- falling victim to hair-loss, arthritis and failing eyesight often before they even reach their teens.
1. Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome
Also known as Restless Genital Syndrome, PSAS incurs an unrelenting, insatiable and often spontaneous arousal in the genitals of its predominantly female sufferers. As many jokes as you feel you could craft at the expense of such a condition, you may benefit to know that sufferers of PSAS mostly experience its symptoms alongside absolutely no desire to engage in sexual activity whatsoever. Effectively wrestling off the urge to orgasm in bouts which can last days if not weeks, sufferers of PSAS soon begin to associate the act of sex/masturbation more with the relief of pain or extreme symptoms than they do with pleasure. Wouldn’t be as manageable as you first presumed, huh?