10 Rare and Unusual Diseases That Science Just Can't Explain.
This article is based on "10 Bizarre Diseases Science Can't Explain". If you're interested in reading more, check out the link at the bottom of the article. Sources for individual points are hyperlinked numbers.
The worst feeling in the world is being sick. Whether it's a common cold or something much more serious, being ill just ruins your entire day. At least the knowledge that "this too shall pass" keeps you going. But for some, their illness doesn't have a cause let alone a prognosis. Hopefully with the advancement of medical research we will discover what causes these diseases and create better treatments.
1. Exploding head syndrome
Exploding head syndrome is a parasomnia in which patients describe hearing a loud noise, like a bomb exploding, as they fall asleep or wake up. The sound isn't caused by an external factor (i.e. something falling over) and is often accompanied by a flash of light or jerking body. Thought to be related to stress, the actual cause is unknown.
2. Prurigo nodularis
Characterized by itchy firm lumps on the limbs, this skin disease can leave behind scars and cause high levels of stress and depression. Research has found a correlation between asthma and other skin conditions, but nothing conclusive has been reported. One theory proposes that the disease could be aggravated by scratching but this is hard to prove as itchiness, and therefore scratching, is an instant reaction in patients.
3. Nodding disease
Nodding disease is an unexplained brain disease found in children in Southern Sudan and the surrounding area. Two popular theories of the cause are a parasitic worm or chemical exposure from warfare but both have been disproven. Named for the nodding action that happens as patients experience repeated seizures, the disease leaves children physically and mentally debilitated until death.
4. Sudden infant death syndrome
One of the more commonly known syndromes on this list, SIDS means that a baby under the age of 1 dies at night in their crib alone with no signs of strangulation or choking. The death remains unexplained after an autopsy. Doctors have encouraged parents to ensure that there are no risk of strangulation in the crib such as blankets or strings on clothing, and to place babies on their backs rather than on their stomachs.
5. Lichen sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus usually appears in women post-menopause and is characterized by small white spots and patches near the genitals and anus. The spots may eventually break and form bruises or scarring. It is thought that the disease may be an overactive immune system with a hormone imbalance as it's not contagious and does go away over time, but there's no concrete answer.
6. Cyclical vomiting syndrome
Sudden and repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting usually accompanies flu or other stomach-related diseases, but when it presents without any related illnesses it's known as cyclical vomiting syndrome. The vomiting can last several hours or days and then disappear without warning. Doctors have speculated that problems with gastrointestinal activity may be a cause but have been unable to pinpoint a specific problem.
7. Stiff person syndrome
This neurological diseases presents in middle-aged people as a progressive stiffness in muscles and painful muscle spams. Eventually patients have difficult moving and 65% cannot function independently. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder but due to the rarity of the disease little research has been done.
8. Brainerd diarrhea
Brainerd diarrhea is an acute watery diarrhea lasting four weeks or longer without the presence of any diarrhea-related illnesses. It's named for the outbreak that occurred in Brainerd, Minnesota that affected 122 people. The diarrhea is not contagious which has made it hard to trace how it comes and goes.
9. Aquagenic urticaria
This rare condition causes hives to develop shortly after the skin comes into contact with water. It's more common in women than men and usually present symptoms after puberty. Studies have been done to see if the temperature of the water or presence of certain chemicals affects the hives with little success.
10. Benign fasciculation syndrome
Persistent twitching of muscles like eyelids, extremities, and even the tongue might sound like symptoms of Tourette's but if they last longer than a few minutes and stop once the muscle is moved, it's probably this syndrome instead. A muscle twitch is usually caused by diseased muscle but this syndrome involves twitches all over the body and doctor's haven't been able to find the diseased site.
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