What we know today about medicine and the human body is staggering in comparison to what we knew even 50 years ago. Each passing year new science helps us identify and treat rare, unusual, and even previously unknown medical conditions. And with each revelation we learn just how incredibly weird our bodies are.
Far more troubling than the common medical conditions suffered by millions around the world are the ones so rare that they seem to be right out of a horror novel. These are the conditions that fascinate us to no end, the ones that we couldn't even imagine having to deal with and the ones that render us completely speechless.
Think your gout or toe fungus is strange? Well think again. Compared to these 10 truly unusual medical conditions, whatever it is you have is as rare as the common cold.
10 Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Sufferers of this highly bizarre disorder believe that a portion of their body shouldn’t be there. It feels alien and they can usually place the exact spot that the offending body part should be removed. While this might sound like a psychological disorder, it’s not, it’s neurological in nature. The cause of this problem is that the brain mapping process doesn’t register this portion of the body. This results in an uncomfortable feeling and the desire to have the body part taken off. Unfortunately, the only cure for this neurological problem is to remove the body part. In instances where amputation has occurred, sufferers have reported a drastic increase in their level of happiness.
9 Cold Urticaria
Also known as the Cold Allergy, those who suffer from Cold Urticaria actually suffer a reaction when exposed to cold air or water. Symptoms are often mild and manifest in the form of itchy skin, watery eyes, hives, and swelling in the affected areas. In rare cases patients who exhibit extreme symptoms can suffer from swelling of the mouth, tongue and throat; symptoms which can prove fatal. Like seasonal and histamine-related allergies those who suffer from Cold Urticaria can typically be treated with over the counter allergy medication.
Those diagnosed with Pica feel compelled to eat things that possess no nutritional value. Eaters might dine on chalk, dirt, paint, hair, mucus, wood, paper, glass, and even metal. While some believe this disorder is cultural in nature, the fact is it’s likely caused by an iron deficiency or a chemical imbalance in most individuals. It should come as no surprise that Pica sufferers often experience intestinal disorders and other conditions related to the stomach, and in more than one case a patient has died on the operating table while doctors attempt to remove a vast amount on non-organic material from their stomach.
7 Cotard Syndrome
Also known as Walking Dead Syndrome, those afflicted with this condition believe they are missing a vital organ to their body, often times something like their brain or another necessity to their continued existence. Most of the time these people simply “wake up” one day and believe they are dead. Some even report the belief that they are missing a soul! This neurological disorder is not only rare, but it’s also difficult to diagnose and treat. Most of the afflicted resume a zombie-like state because they are convinced they are missing an organ vital to living. After all, if you didn’t think you had a brain you probably wouldn’t try to use it. Even more confusing; in some cases patients just suddenly and unexpectedly recover.
This strange condition is also called the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine and is named after a group of French-Canadian lumberjacks who first exhibited symptoms of it. Another common name is Stiff Baby Syndrome which is used when a patient is diagnosed at birth. Sufferers of this odd condition have a rather unexpected and extreme reaction to various forms of stimuli. This often takes the form of strange body movements like jumping and falling down. Luckily this condition is treatable with a class of drugs that slow down the nervous system and are used to treat seizures and anxiety.
An example of someone with this rare condition is Andrew Lathan of Accrington, England, a husband and father whose body is literally scared stiff when he hears loud noises.
More popularly known as Human Werewolf Syndrome, Hypertrichosis is a condition where the afflicted develops an unusual amount of body hair. A genetic disorder, Hypertrichosis cannot even be treated with modern hair removal techniques like laser hair removal.
There are two forms of this disorder; generalized hypertrichois in which the patient develops hair over his or her entire body, and localized hypertrichosis in which the hair is limited to one or several places on the body. Oddly, sufferers can exhibit symptoms at birth or develop them later in life. In the past some of these people would appear in circus sideshows as freaks and human werewolves.
4 Morgellons Disease
This one is relatively new, having been officially added to the ranks of the unusual in 2002. Those afflicted with Morgellons Disease believe they are infested with bugs, parasites, or some other malady that results in their skin becoming itchy. This delusional disorder results in constant scratching of a perceived itch that just doesn’t exist. While Morgellons is recognized as a unique medial disorder, it does not have a list of symptoms that is generally accepted by the medical community.
3 Charles Bonnet Syndrome
This unusual condition manifests itself in a rather strange way – that is, sufferers begin seeing things, faces, people and other creepy or cartoony images that aren’t really there. These hallucinations are not real, they don’t speak, and they are often distorted or cartoonish. Sufferers don’t report them interacting in any way – they are just there. While it sounds like this is a mental disorder, it is not. Most of the time this condition occurs in people over 65 years of age who are suffering from vision loss.
2 Maggot Infestation (Myiasis)
No it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s way, way worse. In fact, in a survey conducted in 2010 this medical condition was voted the most disgusting. So what is it? Well, as the name implies, maggot infestation (or Myiasis) occurs when a person suffers from a parasitic infection of mammal or fly larvae. This happens when the larvae infest, grow, and feed in the soft tissue of the body, often the skin and mouth. These larvae are typically a type of fly called a myiatic fly, blowfly, or screwfly. Mostly, this condition is found in livestock, but on rare occasions humans (especially those in rural tropical areas) will develop this condition when exposed to Myiatic flies. We'll spare you a photo of a sever case of Myiasis. Conduct a quick google search if you don't plan on sleeping for the next few days.
1 Parasitic Twin
Think it can’t get any more gross? Well, think again. Ever wonder what happens when you have twins and one doesn’t quite separate on its own and develop independently? Wonder no more. In instances when one twin doesn’t fully develop you might have a child born with a parasitic twin. Those with this condition are born with a partially developed twin that is attached to their bodies. This results in an extra set of non-functional body parts, such as legs, arms, or even malformed and non-conscious heads. Today most of these twins are removed at birth – but that wasn’t always the case. At least one man, Laloo the Hindoo, performed as a freak sideshow for P.T. Barnum with his parasitic twin – which consisted of a fully formed set of legs, arms, and even a penis. There is also the story of Deepak Paswaan, a little boy from India living with the limbs of his parasitic twin protruding from his abdomen until he finally had an operation to remove them in 2011 at the age of 7.