Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top 10 Bizarre Medical Conditions

Interestingly, all of us are intrigued by bizarre medical conditions. Whether fatal or treatable, strange medical complications always fire our imagination and make us grateful that we live perfectly normal lives with healthy bodies. Here’s a list of the top 6 bizarre medical conditions:

1. Fatal Familial Insomnia

Hot milk, counting sheep, meditation…none of these methods work for a patient suffering from Fatal Familial Insomnia. Taking sleeplessness to a whole new level, the rare brain disease prevents the patient from getting a good night’s sleep. Gradually degenerative and eventually fatal, FFI is an incurable disease, which affects around 40 families across the world.

2. Gender Identity Disorder

When we meet a stranger the first question our mind asks is whether the individual is male or female. Imagine not being able to answer that question for yourself! People with gender identity disorder believe that they have the incorrect gender. Some go in for gender reassignment treatments while others cross dress and display symptoms of transvestism.

3. Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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Guillain-Barre syndrome is the loss of nerve sensation. Sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it? On some level the inability to sense pain or pleasure may be a boon. But the Guillain-Barre syndrome is one of the leading causes of non-trauma related paralysis! It causes life-threatening complications in the respiratory muscles and the autonomic nervous system.

4. Achondroplasia

That unpronounceable word stands for a genetic defect in bone development. This bizarre condition makes cartilage turn into bone. Patients suffering from achondroplasia rarely live past 3 years of age. The disease causes an abnormality of cartilage formation leading to stunted growth.

5. Graft Versus Host Disease

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Like the ironic case of fence eating crop, Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD) is the strange condition where donated immune cells attack the host’s body. Often confused with organ rejection, GVHD is specific to stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The white blood cells in the graft identify the host as a “foreign” object and start causing damage to the liver, skin and the gastrointestinal tract.

6. Cataplexy

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Falling to your feet while laughing is a common symptom of a person with cataplexy. Usually a transient episode, cataplexy is caused by the loss of muscle tone triggered by emotions like elation, surprise or anger. Originating from Greek (kata means ‘downwards’ and plessein means ‘to strike or hit’), the patient's knees buckle and may give way during the episode. The disease affects only 5 in 10,000 people and roughly 70% of people who have narcolepsy – another bizarre sleeping disorder!

7. Water Allergy

Also called aquagenic urticaria, water allergy is a rare skin allergy in which affected people get rashes and other allergic symptoms when exposed to water and even their own sweat.

8. Diphallia

With only 1000 cases recorded, diphallia is a condition in which a male was born with two penises. Occasionally, one smaller penis will sit atop the larger one. People with this bizzare medical condition are at higher risk of suffering spina bifida, a congenital disorder. It is estimated that 1 in 5.5 million American men has two penises.

9. Elephantiasis

This disease is characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs and male genitals. It is caused by a certain parasitic worm transmitted by biting mosquitoes. The scrotum is one of the body parts affected by elephantiasis.

10. Fetus in Fetu

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Fetus in fetu is an extremely rare medical condition in which a twin becomes connected to its twin while still in the womb. One twin will reside inside the body of his/her twin (host). The parasitic fetus may remain inside his twin's body until it begins to cause problem. Sometimes the fetus is confused with a cyst or cancer but medical examination will reveal otherwise.

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