Swine and bird flu, ebola, zika. The names of these diseases at one time got into the headlines of almost all publications. But there are thousands of people living in the world suffering from no less terrible diseases, which many have never even heard of.
Alien Hand syndrome
The story about this syndrome may well form the basis of a horror film, however, for some people this strange disease is a daily reality. The phrase that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing loses all figurative meaning and is taken literally when it comes to people with this strange disorder.
Alien hand syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disease in which the patient’s hand, no matter how strange it may sound, behaves regardless of his intentions. From the outside, such a person may seem obsessed. His sick hand can arbitrarily copy the movements of a healthy limb or demonstrate incomprehensible gestures. But this is not the greatest danger from the “anarchist hand”. In some cases, it can beat, strangle a person, including the “owner”, and at the same time it is impossible to control the actions of the limb.
This disorder was first described in the early twentieth century by the German neurologist Goldstein. It can be a “side effect” of head injuries or unsuccessful brain surgery, as a result of which the corpus callosum, frontal lobe or thalamus of the brain were damaged. As a result of such injuries, one person’s arm seems to be out of control of the central nervous system. In addition, someone else’s hand syndrome can manifest itself as a complication of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or a tumor in the brain.
With such a disorder, the patient feels as if insects or worms are crawling under his skin. In addition, he complains that these worms bite him, after which black fibers appear under the skin.
According to approximate data, about 14 thousand people suffer from this disorder in the world. Often the disease is accompanied by exhaustion, temporary memory loss, joint pain and vision impairment. The first mention of this amazing disorder dates back to the XVII century, when several children died in France after some mysterious “dark hairs” appeared under their skin.
In our time, this disorder was remembered in 2002. It all started with the fact that a certain Mary Leitao discovered some skin lesions in her child and assumed that the baby had the same disease that “knocked down” children in France.
After careful research, scientists have come to the conclusion that Morgellons’ disease is a mental disorder accompanied by hallucinations. Experts explain the appearance of dark marks on the skin by bruises that have arisen as a result of combing the body.
Fibrodysplasia – stone man
The bodies of people suffering from this rare disease literally turn into stone. This extremely rare disorder is the result of mutations in ligaments and tendons, as a result of which soft tissue turns into bone. This disease affects approximately 1 person out of 2 million. But the most terrible thing is that such people cannot be helped even by surgical intervention. Any operation on the petrified part further activates the growth of bone tissue. In some cases, it may take only 10 years for a person to become completely immobile.
The history of this strange disease dates back to 1938. When American Harry Eastlack was 5 years old, he broke his leg. The fracture site did not heal properly, his knee and hip joints lost mobility. It turned out that new bone processes had appeared in the muscles of his thigh. When the young man reached the age of 20, his vertebrae began to fuse into a monolithic bone. Before his death, and he died at the age of 39 in 1973, he could only move his lips. This man suffered from a progressive form of fibrodysplasia. Harry Eastlack bequeathed his skeleton to researchers for further study of his strange illness. Today, Eastlack’s skeleton is kept in the Museum of Medical History in Philadelphia (the Mutter Museum).
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
To people with this disorder, objects around seem much larger or smaller than they actually are. For example, dogs in their eyes may look the size of a mouse, and tiny bugs – like a huge building. By the way, something similar happens to people under the influence of drugs.
Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a temporary condition. Sometimes its signs may appear against the background of migraine attacks, but most often – when a person is on the verge of sleep. Distortions in the perception of the surrounding world most often relate to the dimensions of objects, but sometimes also to time (when a person cannot adequately assess time intervals).
Experts believe that this disorder may be caused by changes in the occipital part of the brain, which is responsible for the perception of visual information.
Exploding Head syndrome
During an attack, the patient hears a very loud sound (as if something incredibly huge has collapsed to the ground) and sees bright flashes before his eyes. In fact, all these are hallucinations, which, however, can lead a person to horror.
The disorder was first described in 1876 by the American neurologist Silas Ware Mitchell. Experts from Virginia, who studied the disease, found that in the modern world, about 13.5% of people suffer from this disorder. As a rule, an attack occurs in stressful situations, against the background of severe fatigue or anxiety. But researchers cannot yet say where the exploding head syndrome comes from.
Walking Corpse syndrome
In science, this deviation is known as Cotard syndrome. This is a rare mental illness caused by dysfunction of the parts of the brain responsible for sensations and emotions. Sometimes it can be caused by a traumatic brain injury.
The patient believes that he has died or lost some vital organ, but, nevertheless, still continues to walk and be aware of what is happening around. Many of the patients with Cotard syndrome believe in their immortality and begin to test this theory in practice, which eventually leads to suicide. Such people, as a rule, do not eat, do not wash, and spend most of their time in the cemetery, which they consider their home.
Progeria – accelerated aging
We are all afraid of signs of aging: the appearance of wrinkles, loss of hair and teeth. But sometimes the typical symptoms of old age appear unnaturally early – even in childhood.
Children with an extremely rare disorder known as progeria begin to look like the elderly even before the age of 2. At the same time, intellectual development fully corresponds to their real age. As a result of deep delays in the development of the body, which begin between 9 and 24 months, signs of abnormal facial development become noticeable in the child. It looks disproportionate, the eyes are bulging, the jaw is underdeveloped. Already by about two years of life, the child loses hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. Further, the amount of subcutaneous fat in the body rapidly decreases and the elasticity of blood vessels is lost. The cause of death of such patients in 90% of cases is a heart attack or stroke. The disorder progresses rapidly and children develop diseases that usually affect people in old age, including arthritis and cardiovascular problems. As a rule, people with progeria rarely live to the age of 13.
Foreign accent syndrome
From the outside, it may look like a person is playing you: for no reason at all, your relative or a good friend suddenly started talking with a foreign accent. Moreover, this accent is unlike any other language known today. Of course, this may be a hoax, but for some people, changes in habitual speech begin suddenly and are completely out of control. Officially, this diagnosis was made to 60 people at different times. The first case known to the scientific world occurred in 1941 with a Norwegian woman.
Foreign accent syndrome is an involuntary change in speech that appears more often after brain damage. Until 2002, scientists considered this disease as a psychiatric disorder. But scientists from Oxford University found that all the studied people with foreign accent syndrome have common disorders in the brain that lead to changes in intonation, longer pronunciation of vowel sounds and some other deviations. The disorder can be triggered by a concussion or stroke. But researchers also know of a case when the cause of the syndrome was a very severe migraine.
Aquagenic urticaria – allergy to water
Allergies can be caused by a variety of substances – from nuts and berries to paints and dust. But imagine, there are people in the world whose skin is covered with burning spots after each contact with water. This is an allergy to water. By the way, even tears or hugs with a sweaty person can cause a reaction in such patients. Science knows at least 30 cases of water allergy.
Congenital insensitivity to pain
All people have their own threshold of pain. But there are also those who do not feel any pain at all. Such people never feel toothache or headache, their joints do not hurt after stretching, they are not even afraid of physical torture. It would seem, yes, it’s just amazing! But not everything is so simple. People with this disorder often unintentionally cripple themselves, because they simply do not feel when they “cross the line”. They can scratch their eye, bite off the tip of their tongue, or walk on a broken leg without paying attention to the problem.
Experts have several theories explaining this disorder. Firstly, such a condition can be caused by an extremely high amount of endorphins in the brain. Secondly, the cause may be a congenital mutation of neurons that dulls sensitivity to pain.
Let’s say right away, “laughing death”, or Kuru’s disease in our days is already history. But under certain circumstances, the epidemic has every chance of happening again.
The disease manifested itself exclusively among the aborigines of New Guinea, or rather, only among the representatives of the Fore tribe. For the first time, the disease, manifested by sudden bursts of manic laughter, became known in the 1950s. A group of American and Australian researchers have been observing people with such strange behavior for several months. Patients within 1-3 months began to tremble limbs, they lost the ability to walk, stand, speak coherently, strabismus appeared, and before death uncontrollable laughter arose. After the death of the unfortunate scientists found that their brain looks like Swiss cheese or foam sponge with holes. After years of research into this strange disorder, American doctor Carlton Gaydushek suggested that the causative agent of the disease is transmitted in the tribe due to cannibalism prevalent here. When cannibalism among the members of the tribe was stopped, the epidemic also went away. By the way, for this discovery, Dr. Gaidushek was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.
Werewolf Man syndrome
How much hair on the human body is considered normal? Everything, of course, is very subjective. But there are people, looking at whom, everyone will say with confidence: there is really a lot of hair on their bodies. This applies to individuals with hypertrichosis, sometimes called werewolf man syndrome. Their excessive hair growth continues even after laser procedures. About 50 people with this disorder are known in the world today. Hypertrichosis can be congenital or acquired. The cause of the congenital “version” of the disease is called genetic mutations. Acquired hypertrichosis can develop due to improper treatment of baldness.
As a rule, people decide on a variety of procedures to get rid of warts on the body. Even if there are few growths. One can only imagine what a person feels whose body is completely (or almost completely) covered with warts. This is the reality of the few people in the world who have the disease epidermodysplasia verruciform. This is a genetic disease in which the number of skin growths increases uncontrollably. The skin of people with this disorder resembles the bark of a tree. The most famous “tree man” is Indonesian Dede Kosvara. In 2008, 95% of the growths on his body were removed, however, most of them reappeared. In order to live without terrible warts, the Indonesian had to have 2 operations every year. Kosvara died in 2016. By this time, he had already undergone 16 operations. Although initially warts are benign, but over the years they have every chance of degenerating into malignant. This disease is caused by a rare mutation of the EVER1/EVER2 genes. Although the function of these genes is not completely clear to researchers, mutations in them make a person susceptible to human papillomavirus types 5 and 8, which in normal cases do not cause the disease.
People with blue skin
The skin color of people can vary significantly – from black to snow-white. But how would you react if you saw a man with blue skin on the street, almost like a famous movie Avatar? If you, like many, are sure that this is impossible, then you have never heard of the Fugate family from American Kentucky. For 162 years, representatives of different generations of this family were born blue-skinned. And only relatively recently, scientists have identified the cause of this mysterious phenomenon. It turns out that they were victims of a rare blood disease – methemoglobinemia. People with this disorder have less oxygenated blood, which makes it look blue through the skin, not red.
By the way, there is another disorder that can cause blue skin. This is argyria. In this case, cyanosis is explained by the use of a biologically active additive of colloidal silver.
Fishy smell syndrome
It is considered that only a person who does not observe hygiene badly smells bad. But sometimes you can go to the shower at least every hour, and the unpleasant smell will not go away. For example, as in the case of trimethylaminuria. This disease is also called fish smell syndrome. Sweat, urine and even the patient’s breathing have a specific and very pronounced fishy smell. The symptoms of the disease appear due to the inability of the body to properly destroy the aromatic substances contained in food. Today there is no effective method that allows you to completely get rid of the syndrome. But there is evidence that some people were partially helped by a special diet and taking antibiotics.
This is an extremely rare genetic disease that causes complete facial paralysis. Such patients cannot close their eyes, look from side to side or use facial expressions. Also, the disease is often accompanied by abnormalities of the limbs, such as clubfoot or lack of fingers.
People need sunlight for the synthesis of vitamin D and some hormones, but too much exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause damage to the skin. The only question is when exposure to UV rays can be called excessive. This indicator is different for everyone. But in most cases, when experts advise to avoid the “extra” sun, they mean the time of noon. But imagine that there are people who cannot appear in the sun even during its sunrise or sunset, when the rays are as safe as possible. Approximately 1 person out of a million suffers from pigmented xeroderma, that is, excessive sensitivity to UV radiation. The disease is caused by a rare mutation in the DNA. Such people should always and completely cover their body from the sun, otherwise their skin becomes covered with burns and wounds. Such persons easily develop skin cancer. Therefore, they have no choice but to hide from the sun, like fantastic vampires.
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis: food allergy
This is a rare disease when eating any kind of food puts the immune system into attack mode. As a result, white blood cells penetrate the gastrointestinal tract and cause inflammation. People with this disorder gradually lose their susceptibility to most types of food. After each meal, they show vomiting, diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. Against the background of such a disorder, anemia and peptic ulcer disease develop rapidly. Many patients have to switch to special liquid or intravenous nutrition in order to survive.
There are many strange and frightening diseases in the world. Today we have told only about a small part of them.