The Most Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020

The medical world was overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, but the novel coronavirus is hardly the only challenge and mystery doctors faced this year. In fact, every year, medical experts report some seemingly impossible chilling medical cases that send shivers down the spine and teach us to be extra careful with what we eat and how we interact with the outside world in general. From a near-lethal allergy to the cold, to green urine, these are certainly the most bizarre medical cases that happened this year.

1. Death By Licorice 

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 Licorice Candy
Licorice root is well-known for its numerous health benefits, and the title of this first case we will discuss today - Death by Licorice - must have surprised you. Alas, the death of the Massachusetts man who ate too much black licorice candy was no misdiagnosis. According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the 54-year-old man was admitted to the intensive care unit after he had suddenly lost consciousness.
After 32 hours at the ICU and multiple treatment approaches, the man sadly passed away due to cardiac arrest brought about by a heart rhythm problem. The cause of the sudden heart failure was stated to be excessive consumption of black licorice candy, of which the man ate 1-2 large packages daily according to family members.
Glycyrrhizin, a compound naturally present in licorice root can be harmful to the heart when consumed in large quantities, especially to people over 40. This compound can cause potassium levels in the body to drop, which can lead to an abnormal heartbeat, swelling, lethargy, high blood pressure, and even congestive heart failure.
Eating as little as 2 ounces (56 grams) of black licorice a day for a period of at least two weeks could lead to an irregular heartbeat. Black licorice is often sold in 2-ounce bags, so be aware of the amount of licorice you consume.

2. Persistent Covid-19

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 coronavirus
Although Covid-19 has been around for over a year now, there’s still so much to be learned about the disease and how it spreads from person to person, and the case we’re about to discuss is evidence of that. The case was published by the journal Cell and involves a 71-year old leukemia patient from Washington state, who contracted the novel coronavirus in late February at the Life Care Center rehabilitation facility in Kirkland, Washington.
The woman didn’t exhibit any symptoms of Covid-19, but at the same time, she remained contagious for 70 days, and the virus was present in her respiratory system for 105 days. For scale, most people are only contagious for 8 days. This curious case made scientists believe that some people with a weakened immune system who contracted the novel coronavirus may be contagious for a longer period of time.

3. Severe Case of Cold Allergy

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 cold
The human body can develop an allergy to literally anything. In a previous article titled 8 Incredibly Rare and Strange Diseases That Really Exist, we already discussed the rare water allergy, but the case of a man hospitalized this year is even more bizarre than that. The 34-year-old Colorado man collapsed a minute after stepping out of a hot shower onto the cold bathroom floor, as stated in the November issue of The Journal of Emergency Medicine.
When the man was admitted to the hospital, he had difficulty breathing, and his entire body was covered in hives. The cause of the severe allergic reaction - cold temperatures. His condition further worsened and he developed anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that makes the airways narrow or even collapse.
After diagnosing the patient with cold urticaria, a rare allergic reaction to cold temperatures, the patient was successfully treated with a combination of steroids and allergy medications, and his condition improved. Still, life with a rare allergy like this to an extremely widespread element like the cold, water, or the sun, is extremely challenging and patients suffering from these conditions have to carry an EpiPen that contains adrenaline in case of a severe allergic reaction.

4. A Wandering Spleen

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 Wandering Spleen
Basic anatomy tells us that every organ in the body has its own place. This bizarre medical case published in the New England Journal of Medicine goes against that seemingly basic notion completely. The case concerns a woman from Michigan whose spleen traveled a distance of 1 foot (30 cm) through the abdominal cavity over the course of 48 hours.
The spleen moved from the upper left quadrant of the abdomen all the way to the lower right quadrant according to two CT scans taken two days apart. This rare condition is called the "wandering spleen" (we’re not joking, it’s the actual name), and it usually occurs when the ligaments surrounding the spleen are weakened.
In this case, the woman had a chronic liver condition that resulted in the enlargement of the spleen, which in turn, weakened the ligaments that were holding it down. Unfortunately, the only viable treatment for the condition is the removal of the organ, which comes with a higher risk of infections but is overall considered safe.

5. Teen’s Heart is Pierced by a Pin

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 Pins
A nearly fatal tailoring mistake occurred this year when a 17-year-old teen accidentally ingested a sewing pin that ended up in his heart. The teen was admitted to the ER with complaints of sharp chest pain radiating to his back. The case report was published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, and the sewing pin was eventually removed through open-heart surgery.
Apparently, the teen wasn’t aware of having ingested the sewing pin at all, and the fact that he tailors his clothes while holding sewing pins in his mouth was revealed only after the discovery of the foreign object via a scan. Needless to say, this case reminds us of why we should never hold sharp objects in our mouths.

6. Green Urine

Bizarre Medical Cases of 2020 Green Urine
Just last year, we mentioned a curious case of a French woman’s urine turning purple in the article The 10 Most Bizarre Medical Cases of 2019. This year, an even stranger case of a man whose urine became green was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The 62-year-old man was hospitalized due to high levels of carbon dioxide found in his blood.
As part of the treatment of the potentially deadly condition, the elderly man was given an anesthetic medication called propofol because he was put on a ventilator. After five days of treatment, the man's urine turned green. While the rare side effect of propofol is completely benign, it certainly must be quite scary to see your urine turn green, we imagine.
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