Strangest Medical Conditions You’ve Probably Never Heard of – Part 1

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Diabetes, pneumonia, cancer and heart disease. These are medical conditions that you have heard of. However, did you know that some illnesses are so strange that even experts cannot explain these health conditions? In this ongoing series, we shall introduce you to many of these weird diseases.

1. Disease Which Makes You Feel Drunk – Auto-Brewery Syndrome

Once in Texas, a man was arrested for being drunk, but the latter persistently claimed that he did not have alcohol at all. And no, he was not a closed drinker! Instead, he was diagnosed with Auto-brewery syndrome.

Auto-brewery syndrome refers to a rare condition where people experience intoxication and hangovers without drinking a single drop of alcohol. This condition is also known as the ‘gut fermentation syndrome’ or ‘drunkenness disease.’ It usually occurs because of an excessive amount of ethanol produced through endogenous fermentation by fungi in the gastrointestinal system which causes symptoms similar to those of being drunk. Other symptoms may include dizziness, dehydration, headache, fatigue and memory problems.

This disease can mostly occur in people who have diabetes or Crohn’s disease. However, it is noted that even healthy people can be diagnosed with this condition.

2. Disease Which Makes You Speak in a Foreign Accent – Foreign Accent Syndrome

It is not a joke, but a real speech disorder that leads to a sudden change in speech and hence a native speaker is considered to be speaking in a foreign accent. The person affected with this condition can still speak their mother tongue, but there can be many unexpected changes in their pronunciations.

Foreign Accent Syndrome can be caused by traumatic brain injuries, strokes or brain tumours. Although the disorder and its symptoms are not really dangerous to a person’s health, people suffering from this disease claim that their lives have become more complicated due to misunderstandings and confusion while speaking, leading to mockery and bullying.

3. Disease Which Makes You Smell Like Fish – Trimethylaminuria

Also known as ‘fish odour syndrome’, Trimethylaminuria is a rare metabolic disorder that causes a person to smell like fish. It is a genetic disease where the body is unable to change the chemical trimethylamine which gives a rotten-fish-like smell into trimethylamine oxide. As a result, trimethylamine develops gradually and is released in a person’s sweat, urine and even breath, giving off a strong fishy body odour.

In some worst cases, the person affected cannot sense the smell but surrounding people can which can lead to severe psychological and communication issues.

4. Disease Which Makes You Want to Eat Paint and Dirt – PICA

PICA is an uncontrollable eating disorder where people crave to eat non-edible items such as paint, clay, rocks, chalks and soaps. The worst but less common scenario is where people craved for cigarette ashes and faeces.

This condition mostly occurs in children ages 1 to 6 and in adults with intellectual brain disorders such as autism. Some pregnant women can also occasionally experience this condition and crave strange items such as dirt.

The signs and symptoms for the consumption of items with no nutritional value include stomach pain, rectal bleeding and bowel problems. However, continuous consumption of non-food items could lead to more serious conditions such as intestinal obstruction, infections and lead poisoning.

One thing is sure, people with PICA are not picky eaters!

5. Disease Which Makes You Allergic to Water – Aquagenic Urticaria

Aquagenic urticaria, also known as ‘water allergy’ is a rare disease where people quickly develop hives in response to water exposure. Patients appear to have an allergy to water and this condition has occurred in only 32 people in the world to date. This condition can occur late in a person’s life and is often caused due to hormonal imbalance.

Aquagenic urticaria makes a simple task like showering difficult for people with this condition. A woman in the UK diagnosed with this medical condition was unable to drink water as her skin started to develop an excruciating rash and she could only shower for 10 seconds once a week. Moreover, as per the National Institutes of Health, some individuals with Aquagenic urticaria even have to bathe in baking soda.

How do you feel when reading about these strange medical conditions? Relieved that you are not one of them or empathetic towards those with these diseases? Please feel free to share your opinions with us and do not forget to come back for part 2!

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