Interesting Medical Conditions - Werewolf Syndrome

A lot of people are affected by minor medical conditions that are, thankfully, curable. However, there exists a minority of people that suffer from outrightly bizarre and interesting medical conditions that continue to baffle doctors. Despite the giant leaps of modern medicine and science in this age, most of these conditions aren’t treatable and have a high mortality rate. We bring you in this interesting list of ten of the rarest and strangest medical conditions.

1. Foreign Accent Syndrome

Interesting Medical Conditions - Foreign Accent Syndrome

Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is a truly fascinating medical condition. It’s a speech disorder in which people start talking with a different accent than their own native accent. It alters the way a person speaks, making their speech sound like a different accent. It’s a rare condition and less than 100 in the last 100 years were affected by it. The cause of FAS is associated with head trauma, a stroke or an injury.[1]

Foreign Accent Syndrome was first reported in 1907 by a Parisian man who had suffered from a stroke. His accent changed to Alsatian dialect after the stroke. Another more recent case is the Arizonian Michelle Myers case. Myers went to sleep with a debilitating headache and woke up speaking with a British accent that has lasted ever since. She also stated that this had happened to her twice in the past and each time she spoke with a different accent; once with an Australian accent and another with an Irish accent.[2]

2. Stone Man Syndrome

Stone Man Syndrome
Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva

Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) is a disabling disease that affects the connective tissues of the body, turning them into bones, hence the name Stone Man Syndrome. Connective tissues include tendons, muscle and ligaments ossify and continue to grow abnormally, creating a second skeleton. To this day, there is no cure for this catastrophic disease. Minor injuries can cause further progression of the disease, making those with FOP live in fear of falling or injuring themselves.

After 15 years of research, the cause of FOP was finally discovered, which is a mutation in the ACVR1 gene. Patients with FOP become bedridden by age 20 and their life expectancy doesn’t exceed 40. Currently, there are 800 people affected by the disease, and their treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and muscle relaxants. There are no current drugs that can slow down the progression of the disease. Moreover, surgery only worsens the conditions because the body repairs the areas where the removal was with more bone.[3]

3. Werewolf Syndrome

Interesting Medical Conditions - Werewolf Syndrome

Hypertrichosis, commonly known as the werewolf syndrome, is a genetic disorder that causes hair to grow abnormally over the entire body. It’s caused by a genetic mutation and there isn’t any cure for it or other forms of hypertrichosis.

Although extremely rare, the disorder has been around for centuries. In the 19th century, Julia Pastrana was born with hypertrichosis. During her whole life, she was ostracized, dehumanized degraded for having this disorder. She was even nicknamed ‘the ape woman’ and ‘the bear woman’. She was put on display for other people’s amusement at the Queen’s Hall in London. When she was going to give birth, her husband sold tickets to the public to come and watch her. The woman never received any peace even after her death; her husband toured with her embalmed body that was in a glass display.[4]

4. Walking Corpse Syndrome

Walking Corpse Syndrome

Although the name Walking Corpse Syndrome might sound like something out of a zombie movie or TV show, it’s a real disorder. The scientific name for walking corpse syndrome is Cotard Delusion. It’s a rare mental disorder in which those affected believe and are convinced that they’re dead or that they’re missing their organs.

Graham, a man suffering from the disorder, spent most of his day in the cemetery because he believed that it’s the closest connection he has with death. Years prior, he attempted suicide so he now believes that his brain is dead and that he’s stuck somewhere between life and death. According to his case study, he went to the doctors to convince them of his death. He claimed that he didn’t eat nor sleep and that his brain was fried after his suicide attempt. The doctor who looked at Graham analyzed his PET scan stated that he had an abnormal scan result.

Another case was in 1996 where a Scottish man had a motorcycle accident and sustained injuries. However, He believed that he had died during the accident. His mother found him in South Africa after his recovery and she discovered that he believed that he was in hell because of the hot weather. Not only that, but he also believed that he had borrowed his mother’s spirit to help him navigate hell because he thought that his mother was still in Scotland.[5][6]

5. Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSbP) is a mental illness that’s a derivative from another condition called Munchausen Syndrome in which patients fake a disease or an illness in order to draw attention or gain sympathy. However, in MSbP; the caregiver fakes an illness in the person they’re caring for. Whether the person under their care is a child or an elder, it’s considered a form of abuse.

Parents or individuals with this illness will go to extreme extents to fake the illness. They will make their child go through painful medical tests and procedures. They fabricate signs and symptoms to deceive everyone. Sometimes they even poison or abuse the victim. Health professionals aren’t sure what’s the direct cause of this condition, but they believe that it might be associated with abuse during childhood that causes them to feel small powerless. So when they have their own child or caring for a vulnerable person, they feel like they’re in control of them.

One of the most recent and famous cases of MSbP is the case of Dee Dee Blanchard. Throughout her daughter Gypsy Rose’s childhood, she made everyone believe that she was suffering from Leukemia and many other chronic illnesses and that her daughter had the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. She managed to fool charities into helping her financially. After years of endless suffering, Gypsy Rose convinced her boyfriend to murder her mother. He stabbed Dee Dee before fleeing with Gypsy Rose, freeing her from her mother’s abuse.[7]

6. Tree Man Syndrome

Tree Man Syndrome

Lewandowsky-Lutz Dysplasia, also known as Tree Man Syndrome, is a very rare inherited skin disorder. Those affected by it are susceptible to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). In normal people with HPV, they don’t show any symptoms. On the contrary, in people with Lewandowsky-Lutz Dysplasia, scaly maculopapular lesions cover their hands and feet, giving them the appearance of tree bark.

Abul Bajandar is one of the few that was diagnosed with Lewandowsky-Lutz Dysplasia in 2016. He underwent a large number of surgeries over the following year to remove the lesions and the warts that covered his hands and legs that weighed 5kgs. After abruptly stopping the treatment, the condition returned again.[8]

7. Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome

Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome

Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome is a rare condition that causes involuntary muscle spasms and movements and flailing of the arms and legs. One of the most characteristic symptoms of this condition is self-injury and self-mutilation. The syndrome mainly affects boys and begins at the age of two to three-year-olds. The self-injury can be mild like biting of the lips and tongue, but as it progresses, the affected start to develop more severe and dangerous behaviors like biting their fingers and banging their head against hard objects.

Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome is caused by a gene mutation that leads to overproduction of uric acid in the body. The mutated gene, HPRT1, is responsible for coding for an enzyme called hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase. This enzyme is important in breaking down and recycling purines. When this enzyme is absent, purines aren’t recycled causing high levels of uric acid. While there are drugs that help in alleviating the symptoms, people with LNS can’t walk and require assistance in their daily lives.[9]

8. Methemoglobinemia

Paul Karason. (NBC NewsWire/Getty Images)

Hemoglobin is a molecule in the RBCs in our bodies that helps in distributing oxygen. Methemoglobin is a form of hemoglobin but the only difference is that it doesn’t have the ability to release the oxygen. In methemoglobinemia, the hemoglobin in the patient’s body isn’t able to release the oxygen to be disturbed. That leads to high levels of methemoglobin in the RBCs and the body tissue will suffer from an oxygen deficit. If the methemoglobin levels reach 15%, the patient starts to suffer from neurological and cardiac problems. Methemoglobinemia can be fatal if the levels reach more than 70%.

People with methemoglobinemia will often turn blue or gray. Other symptoms also include loss of hairline, headaches, weakness, and confusion. A severe form of methemoglobinemia causes coma, seizures, cardiac arrhythmia and death.[10]

9. Syndrome X

20-year-old Brooke Greenberg. Image source: JaxObserver

Syndrome X is a term used by doctors for a rare genetic disease that stops those affected from aging. Doctors failed to diagnose this condition or find out the cause behind this horrific disorder. Patients with Syndrome X never age physically or mentally. Their bodies never grow and they have the mental capacity of a toddler.[11] Brooke Greenberg was a girl who was affected by this disorder. At the age of 20, she only weighed 16 pounds and was 30 inches tall. She never learned to speak and only her hair and nails grew. She went through many unexplainable medical emergencies varying from seizures to a brain tumor that was later confirmed that it wasn’t, but none of which could explain the mystery behind her inability to grow.[12]

10. Morgellons Syndrome

Morgellons Syndrome

Morgellons syndrome is a skin condition with little and conflicting research. What’s known about it is that it is tick-borne that can cause skin lesions, itchiness and the feeling of something crawling underneath their skin. Patients with this condition also claim that multi-colored threads come out of the skin lesions. Some believe that the colored fibers in the lesions are clothes’ threads, while the patients believe that they’re infested by bugs or worms.

Morgellons syndrome is so controversial that doctors believe that it’s a delusional infestation. However, patients with the condition do not meet the criteria of a delusional disorder. They do get prescribed drugs that treat psychosis and ticks which can help alleviate the burning and crawling feeling.[13][14]

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