These Rare and Fascinating Diseases Almost Seem Made Up

Medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma are well-known, but what about the rare ones that few people know about? Ever heard of a condition where people believe they are dead or missing their soul? Creepy, right? And did you know there's a condition that makes a person suddenly start speaking in a different accent?!

In today's article, we'll explore seven of the rarest and weirdest medical conditions on record that sound totally made up. But aren't.

Related: 9 ‘Contagious’ Conditions That Are Not Truly Contagious

1. Foreign accent syndrome


Imagine you're having a normal conversation, then suddenly you find yourself speaking with a strange accent! This isn't a scene from a movie - it's a real condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS). FAS happens when a specific area of the brain responsible for speech production is damaged. This damage, often caused by a stroke or head injury, disrupts speech patterns, causing the person to sound like they've picked up a new accent overnight.

According to the University of Texas, these new accents sound foreign because they affect the way someone speaks, including their rhythm, pitch, and tongue placement. Researchers have documented cases where FAS has caused people to switch accents from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, and even American English to British English.

2. Alice in Wonderland syndrome


The classic children's book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, features a curious protagonist who mysteriously shrinks and grows in size. Interestingly, a neurological condition called Todd's Syndrome, or Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, has similar effects. This condition triggers migraines that distort a person's perception of size and distance.

Episodes can last up to an hour and involve seeing objects or people as much larger, smaller, or farther away than they truly are. Hallucinations and a warped sense of time can also occur that feel incredibly slow or fast. Typically affecting young children, this syndrome may appear as they fall asleep.

3. Water allergy

washing hands

Imagine being allergic to something as essential as water! This is an unfortunate reality for people with aquagenic urticaria (AU). AU causes itchy rashes to develop on the skin whenever it comes in contact with water. The good news is that these rashes fade within about an hour of drying off. However, since complete water avoidance is practically impossible, managing AU relies on medications like antihistamines, topical creams, ultraviolet light therapy, and even injectable medications.

4. Walking corpse syndrome


Cotard's Syndrome, also known as Cotard's delusion, is a rare mental disorder where people start to believe they are dead, rotting, or missing body parts. Scientists believe that this syndrome is a symptom of various psychiatric illnesses, especially depression. However, recent studies using brain scans suggest that neurological changes might also play a role in some cases. Due to its rarity, the exact cause of Cotard's Syndrome remains unclear.

People with Cotard's Syndrome might experience a range of unusual symptoms. Some may attempt to harm themselves, while others become withdrawn and speechless. Delusions are common, with patients believing they are immortal, already dead, or no longer exist altogether. In severe cases, they may become insensitive to pain or even refuse to eat due to the belief they're already deceased.

Medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs can help manage the symptoms. Therapy approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy can also be beneficial. In extreme cases where medication and therapy prove ineffective, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) might be considered as a last resort.

While rare, some patients with Cotard's Syndrome experience a full recovery, even in severe cases.

5. Geographic tongue

Geographic tongue

Geographic tongue (GT) is a condition that causes symptoms similar to psoriasis in the mouth. It leads to the development of harmless, but potentially uncomfortable, lesions on the tongue itself. These lesions often appear as red and white patches with a slightly raised yellow border, resembling a map with oddly shaped continents. While the exact cause of GT remains unknown, there seems to be a link between its occurrence and stressful situations or conditions, which can include allergies, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, psychological distress, a condition known as Reiter's syndrome, and even spicy foods, according to a 2005 case study.

6. Fish odor syndrome

fish odor

This genetic condition is caused by a missing enzyme. This enzyme normally breaks down a chemical called trimethylamine (TMA), which has a strong, unpleasant smell like fish. Because the enzyme is missing, the body can't get rid of TMA properly. As a result, people with this condition have a fishy odor in their urine, sweat, and breath. Unfortunately, there's no cure, but they can manage the symptoms by following a special diet that avoids foods high in TMA, such as beans, nuts, eggs, and certain types of fish and meat.

Related: Even Doctors Can Misinterpret These Weird Allergy

7. Exploding head syndrome


Imagine what it would be like if you were drifting off to sleep only to be jolted awake by loud sounds like gunfire or clanging cymbals in your head! This strange condition, known as Exploding Head Syndrome, can be extremely unsettling despite causing no physical pain. While the exact cause remains unknown, it's linked to factors like insomnia, sleep disturbances, and certain anxieties. Interestingly, simply learning about the condition and understanding that it's harmless can sometimes reduce its frequency. Additionally, maintaining healthy sleep patterns is likely beneficial.

Sources: Cleveland ClinicNational Institutes of Health, Allergy & Asthma NetworkMedicalNewsTodayThe American Academy of Oral MedicineNHSWebMD

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