When people we get sick, they tend to trust doctors that know exactly what is wrong with their bodies. But sometimes, they experience unusual, bizarre diseases that even experts cannot fully explain and doctors cannot recommend a sure cure for.
Here are some of the mysterious diseases with unknown causes:
1. Morgellons disease
People with Morgellons disease experience crawling, burning or biting sensations from beneath the skin, and have fiber-like filaments emerging from the persistent skin lesions. It is also accompanied by short-term memory loss, fatigue, and changes in vision. Morgellons is a rare, unexplained disorder that affects around 14,000 people.
Scientists and doctors have different views towards the condition, and some don’t even acknowledge it yet as a disorder. Some professionals view it as caused by bacteria or a parasite; some believe it is linked to another condition like mental illnesses. Studies trying to understand the disorder and its causes have been inconclusive.2. Nodding disease
Nodding disease only affects children aged five to 15 years old, and sufferers experience pathological nodding seizures when eating or when feeling cold. Seizures will stop once the patients stop eating or felt warm again. They also experience permanent stunting of growth. The condition was only recorded in Sudan, Tanzania, and nearby areas.
A theory about the origin of the strange nodding syndrome has something to do with a parasite common in the area, but it doesn’t justify the fact that some gets the parasites but does not catch the syndrome. The CDC is investigating its possible links to wartime exposure and to a deficiency in vitamin B6.
3. Foreign accent syndrome
What would you do if you’re from Texas and you suddenly woke up with a British accent? That’s what happened with Lisa Alamia in 2016. She had a jaw surgery and after that, her Texan twang was gone and was replaced by a tone of an English person. Skeptics thought she was faking it, but doctors say it’s a real thing.
Foreign accent syndrome is a rare neurological condition in which patients develop speech patterns that are different from their native accent without having acquired it in the foreign accent’s place of origin. Only about a 100 cases were ever recorded in history, and it was believed to be caused by brain injuries after a stroke or a head trauma. However, in Alamia’s case and also in the 15% minority of FAS patients, the condition wasn’t gained from a brain injury, so the most probable cause of this syndrome is still a mystery.
4. Water allergy
Water is one of the human body’s basic needs but on extremely rare occasions, some people develop a hypersensitivity to it. One form of water allergy is aquagenic urticaria, a painful skin reaction caused by contact with water. Sufferers experience a hive-like reaction when exposed to tap water or even drinking water. They are forced to take only very quick showers. For some, it can be so extreme that even their tears or sweat can trigger adverse reactions.
The mechanisms of this harsh disorder have not been fully known, and no treatment has been developed yet. Studies are difficult to conduct because of the very small population of patients who suffer from this allergy, as only around 30 people around the world were found to have acquired it.
5. Sleeping sickness
Medically known as encephalitis lethargica, sleeping sickness is an unusual sleeping disorder. Some sufferers fall into sudden sleep with eyes rolling, going off even while standing, and then, when they wake up, they’ll scream or start doing bizarre things that hurt themselves or people around them. Some reportedly gouged their own eyes and violently sexually assaulted people.
The first sign of this disorder is fever and sore throat with a headache, and then developing into severe weakness, delayed responses and double vision. Within hours, the victims experience an episode of tremors, muscle pains and delayed mental response. Behavioral changes also occur like hallucinations and psychosis, as well as lethargy and drowsiness.
The exact cause of the sleeping sickness is unclear, but research suggests that it is autoimmune in origin, or a result of an immune reaction.
6. Exploding head syndrome
Exploding head syndrome is a benign condition wherein the sufferers occasionally hear a tremendously loud imagined noises like a bomb explosion, gunshots, ringing and the like while falling asleep or waking up. Sufferers often feel a sense of anxiety or fear with increased heart rate after an episode. The cause and mechanism of the condition are unknown, but it is often linked to extreme stress and fatigue, or minor seizures affecting the brain.
Pica is an unusual eating disorder characterized by an insatiable urge to eat non-food substances like soil, paper, dirt, clay, paint, and hair. Before making the diagnosis of this disorder, the doctor will assess the presence of other potential causes like mental retardation, OCD or developmental disabilities. If a person has no disorders like those and the eating habit was observed for more than a month, then it is considered as pica. The cause of the disorder in children is still unidentified, but for pregnant women, it may be caused by nutrient deficiencies.
Also known as Lilliputian hallucination, Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a neurological condition that affects the perception of patients, wherein they view things to be smaller or larger than normal, or perhaps more distant or near than they actually are. Episodes of AIWS are usually short, often less than an hour, and occur up to several times a day.
The exact causes of AIWS are still a mystery, but in some cases, brain tumors, brain epilepsy, migraine or psychoactive drugs for Epstein-Barr virus infections trigger AIWS.