The science of medicine is far more advanced nowadays than it was even ten years ago. Yet, there are many diseases that do not have a cure. Billions of dollars are spent every day for researches, experimental treatments and various tests. Even so, there are some conditions that are extremely rare and the researchers cannot gather information for them and cannot find a cure. Of course, in some cases the so called “symptomatic treatment” can be applied, but there is a long way to go before discovering treatment for the diseases themselves.
There isn’t a person who has not been sick during his lifetime. Some of us get lucky and just catch the flu from time to time or have to get through minor surgeries. Others must take medicines all of their life or undergo long, dangerous and horrible treatments. But imagine suffering from a disease that is so rare that just a few people have heard about it. And knowing that you have had the bad luck to be that one in a million (or maybe billion) who get’s “hit by the Russian roulette bullet”. Some of the diseases listed bellow cause only discomfort (although big), others are lethal, or lead to a terrible and painful state of being. Let’s take a look at them.
10. Cotard’s Delusion, Walking Corpse Syndrome
Cotard’s delusion syndrome or Cotard’s delusion, known also as the “Walking Corpse Syndrome”, is a mental illness in which the person believes that he or she is dead or missing essential body parts, or even, paradoxically, might has delusion of immortality. The patient cannot recognize his or her own face, has a tendency to suicide, loses sense of reality. The sufferer would not eat, bathe and can eventually die from starvation.
Very little is known about this illness. In one case, that of Graham Harrison, the positron emission tomography (PET) showed that his brain function resembles that of someone who is sleeping. But since there aren’t many people who suffer from the disease and almost none of them has undergone PET, Graham’s test results cannot be conclusive.
It is more likely that the disease will affect patient who have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or had suffered strokes or depression. There are three stages of the syndrome. Germination stage, when the person had depressive mood and is worried of unwellness. Blooming stage – then the patient starts experiencing delusions and thinks he or she is dead or immortal. Chronic stage, when the sufferer shows very severe depression.
The disease is treated with Electroconvulsive therapy and medications, like antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
9. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, Stone Man Syndrome
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) or the “Stone Man Syndrome” is very rare medical condition that affects 1 in every 2 million. What causes it is a genetic mutation. That mutation allows the connective tissues, like muscles, to be replaced with bones, when injured, instead of being cured. This would eventually lead to a new skeletal structure.
The syndrome has no cure. Patients are advised to be very careful and to prevent falls, traumas and not to engage in contact sports in order to prevent injuries. Surgery for removal of the extra bones is also not an option because every attempt will result in even more bone producing. Most of the affected people usually live till their 40’s and die from respiratory problems.
Microcephaly is a condition in which the brain is not normally developed or has stopped growing and this leads to smaller than normal head. It can be present at birth, but may occur in the first few years. Along with the smaller head, dwarfism, seizures, delayed motor functions, facial distortions, hearing loss, visual problems, intellectual disability might occur, but some of the patients may have normal intelligence.
Scientists do not know the exact reason for Microcephaly, but they believe that the disease is caused by drugs, alcohol, viruses or toxins on which the baby is exposed during pregnancy, or by genetic abnormalities in the baby’s DNA.
It can be diagnosed either during pregnancy (with the use of an ultrasound test), or after pregnancy. There is no treatment and the research on microcephaly is ongoing.
Kuru, also called trembling disease, is a fatal disorder of the brain, which occurs in New Guinea, among the Fore people. It was a result of the cannibalism among the Fore. The people consumed the brain of the deceased, which lead to spreading the disease because brain tissue from people with kuru was very infectious. In the first stage begins unsteadiness, shivering, tremor, deterioration of speech. In the second, the patient need support for walking, loses coordination in the muscles, has emotional lability. The third and terminal stage includes inability to sit up without support, urinary and faecal incontinence.
No treatment is known for kuru and the only method of preventing it is discouraging the cannibalism. The disease had a long incubation period, sometimes even decades. The person dies 6-12 months after the first symptoms. Because of the discouragement of cannibalism kuru has almost disappeared.
6. Fields Disease
This is one of the rarest conditions in the whole world. Only two people are known to have suffered from it. The disease is named after Catherine and Kirstie Fields, twins from Wales, and causes muscular degeneration. The girls are still alive and there is no change in their brains or personalities.
Field’s disease is progressive. By the age of nine, the twins already had trouble walking. Their muscles gradually deteriorate over time. Catherine and Kirstie now use wheelchairs and are unable to speak. They also have painful muscle spasms. There is no cure for the disease, but doctors continue to search for a treatment.
5. Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), also known as Progeria, is very rare and fatal genetic condition and leads to premature aging. Most kids with progeria start aging when they are only two and die of heart diseases at an average age of 14.
Children who have progeria look normal at birth, but during the first year start to show symptoms like bigger head, large eyes, slow and abnormal tooth growth, hair loss, loss of body fat. As children who have progeria get older, theщ suffer from diseases that are typical for people at the age of 50, like hardening of the arteries, heart diseases, etc. There isn’t a treatment for progeria, but the researches are ongoing and show some chances for cure.
4. Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS)
The Alien hand syndrome gets this name, because if one suffers from it, then one of his or her hands will move involuntarily. It might even grip your throat. Thе disease is one very rare neurological disorder which most commonly affects the left hand. The affected hand is usually described to have “will of its own”. The patient is able to feel sensation his or her affected hand. Despite this, he or she cannot control it. This disease is connected to brain trauma, after brain surgery, strokes or brain infections.
No cure exists and some of the patients often try and keep their hand occupied by giving it something to hold or even tying it behind their backs.
3. Hypertrichosis, Werewolf Syndrome
This syndrome is a disorder of hair density and length on one (localized hypertrichosis) or more sites (generalized hypertrichosis). The generalized hypertrichosis is inherited disorder and the hair growth is typically on the face, ears and shoulders and may vary (decrease or increase) with age.
Some other types of hypertrichosis may be linked to cancer, metabolic disorders, hyperthyroidism etc. That is why the correct diagnosis is very important.
Up to date, there is no cure for hypertrichosis. Temporary hair removal may be used and it usually lasts from several hours to several weeks. The hair might be removed permanently by the use of chemicals or energy of various types. One effective method is laser hair removal, which is effective on hairs with color but not white hair. Electrolysis, Electrology, or Electrolysis, is able to treat white hair, too.
2. Exploding Head Syndrome
Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? But, actually, it is not. This is a sleep disorder and people who suffer from it hear very loud noises like explosions, thunder claps, gunshots, etc. – while drifting off to sleep or waking up. Usually there is no physical pain, but some people may see a bright light along with the sound. The disease is more common in women, its onset is at the average age of 50 and is related to high stress level, minor temporal lobe seizures or other neuronal dysfunction.
It can be a result of certain medications or drugs. If the disorder is related to stress, yoga or meditation before sleeping are recommended. The condition may come and go.
1. Allergy to Water
Aquagenic urticaria or water allergy is a rare condition. It is not a true allergic reaction, but the skin reacts after contact with water, which is why the condition is called water allergy. The symptoms can appear minutes after the contact with water. Some people with water allergy also have itching. After removing the source of water, it takes 30 to 60 minutes for the rash to fade. Some patients cannot even drink water, because it causes their throat to blister. Water allergy is less common in men. It often begins after puberty.
No treatment is known. Oral antihistamine, topical corticosteroids, epinephrine, PUVA therapy, ultraviolet radiation, stanazolol and capsaicin can be used to lessen the effects of the condition. An oil in water solution or emulsion cream may be used on the skin to protect it from contact with water. Swimming should be avoided and umbrellas or protective clothing should be used for avoiding water contact.
In conclusion, first, I want to remind you that you should tolerate every person who has some weird disease, although you might feel disgust or want to laugh at them, because you can never know what will happen to you or to someone you love. The diseases listed above may seem strange to you, but imagine having to live with them and, I promise you, the desire to laugh will go away. Be happy that you are healthy and tolerate the sick people.
Second, these are many other strange and rare diseases, but it would have taken many more articles to list them. If you are interested, you can always search in the Internet.
And once again, although the science of medicine might have made a lot of important and lifesaving discoveries, there is still a long way to go. Everything is evolving, including the various viruses, infections, etc. New diseases are being found, others have disappeared. We can only hope that the doctors and researchers will be faster that the diseases.