We’re all familiar with what it feels like to have a cold, the flu, or even a more serious illness like strep throat or chicken pox. Luckily, most of us will never know what it’s like to be diagnosed with a genuinely rare and strange medical condition.
While walking corpses, vampires, and werewolves are known as fictional characters, they’re included with a few others on our list of the strange medical conditions.
While it might be cool to be a zombie in pop culture, Walking Corpse Syndrome, or Cotard’s Syndrome-named after French neurologist Dr. Jules Cotard who discovered the condition back in the mid 1800’s, isn’t much fun at all. This neuropsychiatric disorder involves severe delusions by those affected, causing them to believe they are dead or missing their soul, organs, blood or various body parts. This extremely rare disease has no known cause, and even stranger, patients have been known to spontaneously recovery completely.
Sure, snow is pretty, but I think we’ve all had second thoughts about how much we love winter when we’re knee deep and shoveling it. Anyone diagnosed with cold urticaria doesn’t just hate the cold, they’re actually allergic to it. Being exposed to cold air or water triggers a histamine reaction in their bodies, the same as you might see in someone who is stung by a bee or exposed to dogs and has an allergy. They might break out in hives, have itchy eyes and a runny nose, or at worst experience swelling in their throat and tongue. While researchers don’t know what causes it, it can surprisingly be treated just like any other seasonal allergy, with Benedryl. Thank goodness.
Zombies? Check. Vampires? Believe it or not, check! While everyone will sunburn with too much exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, around 1 in 1 million people suffer from xeroderma pigmentosum or vampire syndrome, and literally can’t be exposed to the sun at all. Their bodies have a mutation in the enzymes that should correct any damage caused by UV rays. In these folks instead of correcting the damage, the enzymes cause more damage and the eventual break down of their skin cells all together. These individuals are at a significantly increased risk of developing skin cancer as well. There’s a handful of treatment options out there, but the best one? Avoid the sun. At all costs.
Sure, it might look pretty cool, but erythema migrans or geographic tongue, isn’t all fun and games. This benign condition produces red and white lesions on the tongue that are sometimes surrounded by a raised yellow border, and almost resembles a strange sort of geographic tattoo. Unfortunately, sometimes these lesions hurt, burn, or itch. This disease is tricky to diagnose, and can sometimes even be misinterpreted as the early stages of cancer.
A rare condition that presents in patients who have a disconnect between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, usually a result of surgery, a stroke or sometimes a tumor causes a neurological connection that stimulates hand movement, without the person actually knowing it’s happening. Picture Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 film of the same name, literally not realizing what his hands are doing. While it might look more than a little funny, it can sure make eating soup more complicated than it needs to be.
While those diagnosed with this syndrome likely won’t be howling at the moon or growing claws any time soon, they do carry a rare genetic mutation that causes excessive hair growth either in one area of the body, or everywhere. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries you might see someone with hypertrichosis, or human werewolf syndrome, traveling with a circus act.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the syndrome, and while it is possible to remove the hair through shaving, waxing or laser hair removal, the nature of the syndrome causes it to grow back quickly and there is no remedy with lasting results.
One of the rarest diagnosed diseases, stone man syndrome occurs when bone forms in muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues within the body. One article describes the syndrome as the body forming a second layer of bone over joints and tendons, essentially imprisoning the body in bone. There is no known cure, but there is promising research that indicates if the syndrome is caught early enough the affected bone may be able to be removed and stop the progression before those suffering become completely immobile from the disease.
If you’ve ever been to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving, you may have thought that your head might explode. While this isn’t exactly the same thing, this interesting syndrome is actually relatively common (and don’t worry, it doesn’t involve brains on the bedroom walls). Classified as a parasomnia, or an undesired event that happens in your sleep, this syndrome presents as someone being abruptly woken from sleep in the middle of the night because they heard a loud banging sound. Some even describe it as sounding like a clash of cymbals, or even a bomb exploding. While the episodes are scary, and some individuals might even think they’re having a stroke, the good news is the symptoms typically go away in a few days, leaving your sleep noise free.
Do you have or know anyone who has one of these medical conditions? Do you think you could cope with some of these? Tell us in the comments below!