Each one of us must have heard of cancer or HIV but have you ever heard of Dercum’s disease or Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency? Apart from the most common diseases that takes away the attention of media and charities or we have heard of or seen someone suffering from them, there are many more deadly diseases. Such diseases are found in the rarest of the rare cases and are so uncommon that even a successful doctor is not able to diagnose more than one such disease in their lifetime. Here is a list of 10 diseases that rarely affect people and you may have never heard of and hope that nobody has to encounter them up close.
If you have seen the movie Paa, you must be familiar about this disease. Affecting one in about 8 million children, Progeria is a genetic condition where aging of the patient begins in childhood. The usual life span of the people affected by this disease is 13 years while few others have been able to survive till their early twenties. Progeria is not inherited in most of the cases and is an incurable disease though various cures like anti cancer drugs and hormone treatment have been tried by doctors. Victims of this fatal disease have a appearance resembling premature aging leading to abnormal development of body parts like bulging eyes, abnormally small face and wrinkled skin. The hair starts falling at the age of two. In 90% of the cases, the victim dies due to a heart attack or stroke.
9. Water Allergy
Also known as Aquagenic Urticaria, this disease is extremely rare and has affected only 30 people till date. Water Allergy is a disease confirmed by Medical Review Board where sufferers are allergic to water. Mostly it occurs in the latter part of the life and is often caused due to hormonal imbalance brought about by giving birth. In a case in UK, a 21 year old female developed this allergy where she could not drink water or touch water because her skin develops a burning rash. She could only consume diet coke, bath for 10 seconds in a week and not get caught in the rain. This is basically a hypersensitivity to the ions present in non-distilled water.
8. Laughing Death or Kuru
Also known as Laughing Death, Kuru is so rare that it was found only amongst the tribal Fore people of New Guinea. The main symptom of the disease is sudden burst of maniacal laughter which ultimately leads to death with a hole in the brain. The disease was a result of cannibalism, a ritualistic practice where tissues of the brain of the deceased were cooked and consumed. The sufferers are usually not able to eat and stand, begin to sway and stumble, lose power of speech and ultimately die in a comatose state. However, in most of the parts, Kuru has disappeared because of government intervention to put an end to cannibalism.
Weird but true that 18th century English King George III suffered from this infamous disease. Porphyria leads to purple urine and feces which is caused due to complications in the production of a protein forming a vital part of the red blood cells. Affecting skin and the nervous system, common symptoms of this disease are vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, stomach disorder, increasing sensitivity to sun, swelling, itching and nausea. In few cases, the hair growth of forehead increases. Toxins after exposure to sunlight due to deficiency of heme protein causes coloring of skin areas like reddish teeth and nails, dark urine etc. Some of the known people suffered from Porphyria are Mary Queen of Scots, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Vincent Van Gogh.
6. Fatal familial insomnia: No sleep
The nightmare of FFI is never to have a nightmare or a dream. It starts with a mysterious sleeplessness starting from middle age and rapidly develops as the person grows old. For years, the members of an Italian family suffering from this disorder have been dying as they were unable to sleep. It is generally resultant of a genetic mutation which leads to a prion disease, related in nature to diseases like Mad Cow, Kuru and even Alzheimer’s. Till date this disorder has only been found only in 40 families worldwide. FFI is a rare genetic sleep disorder. The main symptom includes the inability to sleep, high pulse, blood pressure, excessive sweating and sometimes loss of coordination and motor abilities.
5. Alien Hand Syndrome
Alien hand syndrome is a rare disorder in which neurologically one hand functions involuntarily. The victim is completely unaware of its actions and doings. The affected person hand seems to take a mind of its own. They are not in the control of the sufferer, hands does not exist for them. The terrible symptoms include uncontrolled reaching and grasping for things, touching the face or tearing of clothes. This disorder occurs after conditions like brain surgery, infection, stroke, tumor and specific degenerative brain conditions. AHS is the condition in which the affected limb does not have any purpose and are not goal-oriented. Patients keep all sense of feeling in the hand, but they still have the feelings of disassociation. They may exhibit strange behaviors like talking to the hand or claiming demonic possession. Extreme cases involve involuntarily stuffing food into the mouth and preventing hand from simple daily tasks. Since 1909 there have been only 40 to 50 cases.
4. Argyria: Blue Skin
The Blue skin disorder is a real life smurf disease. The Fugate family was suffering from this disease for nearly last 200 years. The members of the family suffer from inherited disorder which gives their skin a shocking blue or purple color. Medically known as methemoglobinemia, it is an outcome of a blood disorder that leads to excessive amount hemoglobin. Patients have blue skin, purple lips and somewhat brown blood due to insufficient levels of oxygen in the body. High levels of met hemoglobin can result into heart disorders or even can lead to death. This disorder is permanent. The main symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, dizziness, and mental changes.
3. Hereditary angioedema (HAE)
Hereditary angioedema is an inherited disorder. The symptoms include recurrent episodes of swellings. The swelling is due to accumulation of fluids outside the blood vessels, jamming the normal flow of either blood or fluid which causes rapid swelling. Swelling can be seen in the various parts of the body like hands, feet, limbs, face, intestinal tract and airway. The symptoms does not show any sign of itching. This is a rare case which affects only one among 50,000 people worldwide. These swelling make daily activities hard to perform for the patient. Swelling in the gastrointestinal leads to cramping, swelling in airway lead to obstruction, patient suffers very serious complication. The disease is due to deficiency or inappropriate functioning of certain proteins in the body system which maintain the normal flow of fluids or blood through very small blood vessels.
2. Hypertrichosis: Werewolf Syndrome
Also known as Werewolf Syndrome, Hypertrichosis is medical hormonal imbalance which triggers an unusual amount of hair growth on the body. It can occur in male or female anyone and can be hereditary in nature. The disorder causes abnormal growth of hair in body areas where hair does not grow normally. It can be over the entire body, or in one or more areas. It’s not innate. Some are born with it while some develop it later in their life. This rare case was also seen in India in 2008, where an 11 year old boy was suffering from excessive hair on his face and body. The family took various measures from homeopathy to traditional Ayurvedic remedies even they took help of laser surgery but could not find a permanent cure.
1. Human Pappiloma Virus: The Tree Man
Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) is a skin disorder which is lifelong. It is a rare disease which is hereditary in nature. HPV is extremely rare and only 195 cases have been documented till now all over the world. It is due to some immunity deficiency which results into a typical skin disorder, mostly severe. The immunodeficiency allows this virus present on our skin to develop themselves on the person’s skin. They are present all over the body, but sometimes it can be concentrated to the parts of the body which are exposed to the sun, like face, legs and hands. Yet no significant treatment has not been found, physicians have proposed treatments but none of them is working.