Top 10 STRANGE Medical Conditions
We have all heard of crazy diseases like Ebola and Swine Flu that have been known to spread like wildfire, but what about those rare and often extreme cases that aren’t commonly covered on the news. Of thousands of known, diagnosed medical conditions, we picked the top ten strangest of them all.
Epidermodysplasia verruciformis, also known as tree man illness, is an extremely rare skin disorder that makes someone abnormally susceptible to HPV of the skin. The disease is known for producing skin lesions that resemble bark from a tree. One of the better known cases of the disease is Debe Koswara, an Indonesian man who’s body is littered with the tree-like warts. With the majority of his body covered, he was unable to walk or even feed himself. Surgeons removed 95% of Koswara’s warts, but not long after, they returned almost entirely. Outside of constant surgery, there is no treatment for Epidermodysplasia verruciformis.
All of us have heard the term two-faced before, but did you know it’s actually possible to be born with two faces? Diprosopus is a congenital disorder where the face becomes duplicated on the head. A protein called sonic hedgehog or SHH determines the makeup of the face. When too much of this protein is produced, a mirror image of the face forms, creating the two-faced appearance. Most children with this defect are usually stillborn but a young girl named Lali Singh survived for six weeks in 2008.
Stone Man Disease
The disease, Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive (FOP), is when your body begins to gradually replace your tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other soft tissue with bone. Eventually, the rare genetic disorder, which creates a sort of second skeleton, immobilizes the afflicted, giving the lethal disease its common name of “Stone Man Disease”. There are only 800 confirmed cases around the globe and with no treatment available, the only thing doctors can do is give steroid shots to reduce the pain. Attempted removal of the extra bone growth has only lead to additional skeletal growth, making it virtually impossible to treat.
Benjamin Button became the face for Progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes children to grow rapidly. It’s usually diagnosed within the first year or two after a child is born. Those stricken by Progeria will experience hair loss, their faces will sink in, and their skin will wrinkle as time goes on. Most children diagnosed with Progeria die in their teens or early twenties. The disease is uncommon, occurring in only 1 birth per every 8 million. Still, while most teenagers are worried about their homework, teens with Progeria are suffering loss of eyesight, arthritis, and other common symptoms that develop with old age.
Prune Belly Syndrome
Affecting 1 in 40,000 births, Prune Belly Syndrome is a rare and genetic birth defect that starts when the fetus is developing and affects the urinary system. Prune Belly Syndrome received the name for the lack of abdominal wall muscles causing the skin on the stomach to appear very wrinkly. Surgery is often required since the internal organs swell. The unusual syndrome is prevalent in males, with Autosomal recessive inheritance believed to be one cause. Of the many complications that can arise, patients can suffer from enlarged internal organs, scoliosis, and joint dislocations. Cases with severe enlargement or malformation of the kidney have required dialysis or kidney transplant.
Causing gross and abnormally massive swelling to an area of the body, especially the limbs or even external genitals, Elephantiasis landed number six for strangest medical conditions. Elephantias is more of a symptom for some grander medical concern than a disease on its own, generally indicating such conditions as Elephntiasis Nostras, Nonfirarial elephantiasis, Grade 4 lymphedema, and, as seen in the Elephant Man, Proteus Syndrome. It’s caused by an obstruction of the lymphatic system, which results in the fluid called lymph to accumulate in the affected areas. Elephantiasis conditions are more common in tropical areas and are caused by parasites transmitted from female mosquito’s.
Madura Foot is a progressively destructive and morbid inflammatory disease that’s isolated to a limb—usually the foot. It forms via a fungal or bacterial infection through an initially minor wound – such as a prick of the skin – that eventually grows infecte. Madura Foot forms from a variety of possible bacteria and fungi, generally determined by the color of discharge from the infected wound. The disease is more common in barefooted communities and in field workers. As there is no vaccine available, most cases lead to amputation or even death.
Your dentist will tell you that if you don’t floss and take care of your teeth, you may get cavities or, even worse, will have to have your teeth removed. In some cases of very poor dental care, people have developed Noma—a quick and progressive gangrenous infection of the mouth. Extreme cases have led victims to extreme tissue degenerate until the bones in their mouth or face are exposed. It has a very high mortality rate of 90% and is often found in children who live in poor areas in countries such as Africa, Asia, and South America. Luckily, the disease can be halted if caught soon enough with antibiotics and improved nutrition, though physical deformities will require surgery.
Neurofibromatosis is another genetic disorder that causes tumors to develop on the nerves. Though present on the nerves, these tumors can be visible on the skin and can become severe enough to completely alter the patient’s appearance to a point of being nearly unrecognizable. Neurofibromatosis is broken up into three types -Type I, Type 2, and Schwannomatosis, with Type 1 being the least severe. Due to location on the brain stem, Type 2 can be fatal while Schwannomatosis typically comes with severe, debilitating pain. Cases of Neurofibromatosis can usually be diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood as it slowly begins to spread around the body.
Imagine walking down the street and seeing what you believe to be a mutated wolf, but in reality it’s a human being with a strange genetic condition. Hypertrichosis, otherwise known as Ambrass or “werewolf syndrome” is a dermatological condition that causes an abnormal amount of hair growth on either a specific body part or the whole body. Popular among circus sideshows, folk afflicted with the chromosomal genetic mutation certainly can stand out within a crowd. Currently, there is no known cure for this werewolf-like syndrome, save for maybe a pair of expensive clippers and tweezers.