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You’ve probably heard of many diseases and health problems that befall humanoids, but there are some strange syndromes out there that you probably aren’t familiar with. How many of these unusual medical conditions have you heard of?
Exploding Head Syndrome
Imagine what it would be like to be sleeping soundly, only to be jolted out of a dead sleep by the sound of an explosion tearing through your head? No, you haven’t been shot; you have exploding head syndrome. This strange ailment, also known as hypnagogic or “exploding” sleep disorder, is a rare condition where a sufferer hears loud noises in their head. The most common time these noises occur is while falling asleep. The noises can vary from thunderclaps to gunshots, but the sounds can be bizarre, like creaking doors. In most cases, the sound will last only a few seconds, but they can be more persistent and associated with other symptoms, like seeing a flashing light.
Exploding head syndrome is most common in women over 50 who are stressed or fatigued, but it also occurs in young adults too. According to Cleveland Clinic, 16% of college students reported it in one study. It’s not dangerous — although it can be scary for those who experience it. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to understand why some people experience it and others don’t.
Foreign Accent Syndrome
Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a condition in which a person speaks with a different accent. Suddenly, you sound like you’re from another country. Some people with this syndrome have another condition, like a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis, but there’s been at least one case of a woman developing it after dental surgery. Although rare, there is no cure. The treatment most doctors recommend is speech therapy to correct the accent.
A neurologist in Norway first described the condition in 1941. A Norwegian woman hit by a fragment from a bomb during World War II began speaking with a strong German accent. So strong was the accent that she became the target of hate speech directed against Germans. The disease has since been documented throughout Europe and North America, including cases of people born and raised in the U.S.
Tree Man Disease
Tree Man disease, also known as epidermodysplasia verruciformis, causes a type of viral wart to grow all over the body. The warts are not contagious, and doctors can remove them with surgery, but they tend to grow back. Plus, the warts are associated with a higher risk of cutaneous cancers (cancers affecting the skin). This disorder usually runs in families.
Interestingly, people with tree man disease have problems regulating the amount of zinc inside cells, including viral cells. There is no cure for this condition, so if you think you might have it, your best bet is to visit a dermatologist ASAP.
Human Werewolf Syndrome
Here’s a genetic disorder you’ve probably never heard of: human werewolf syndrome, also known as hypertrichosis. This condition, discovered in the 1600s, causes an abundance of hair to grow on a person’s face and body. Affecting all races and sexes, it’s so rare that there are only about 50 known cases in the world. Some people with the disease have hair all over their bodies and look like a werewolf. Other people with this rare condition only have thick patches on their faces or other discrete areas of skin.
Human werewolf syndrome may show up at birth or develop later in life. It’s usually harmless, but sometimes the extra hair causes irritation or discomfort if it grows into open wounds or gets tangled up in clothing or jewelry. Otherwise, people with human werewolf syndrome appear in good health, and it doesn’t shorten their lifespan.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a rare neurological condition that affects a person’s sense of time, body image, sound, and size. Named after the novel by Lewis Carroll, it’s also referred to as Todd’s syndrome, Liliputian hallucinations, and micropsia. The condition usually shows up in young children or those with brain damage. The symptoms are hallucinations or distortions of perception (such as seeing objects as smaller than they really are).
An example would be a child suddenly believing that objects are smaller in size or further away than they are. They may also have an altered body image, believing their body is smaller than it is. People with Alice in Wonderland syndrome frequently experience migraine headaches too, and the condition is sometimes associated with brain tumors. There’s no treatment for this condition, other than controlling the migraine headaches.
Aquagenic pruritus is a rare skin condition that causes an intense itching sensation after encountering water. It can happen to people with or without other skin conditions, but it’s most common among those with eczema or other rashes.
The itching usually begins within 5-10 minutes of contact with water and can be severe, so much so that the person is unable to sleep. The symptoms can last for hours and may require antihistamines to manage the irritation. Some people develop such distressing itching that they become afraid to take a bath. However, bathing in cold water can sometimes temporarily stop the itching.
The Bottom Line
There you have it; some bizarre and, thankfully, rare conditions that cause strange symptoms. Needless to say, you probably don’t want any of them!
- My.ClevelandClinic.org. “Exploding Head Syndrome”
- ABCNews.go.com. “Rare Syndrome Causes Woman to Speak with a Foreign Accent”
- Healthline.com. “Hypertrichosis (Werewolf Syndrome): Causes, Treatments, and Types”
- Emedicine.medcape.com. “Congenital Hypertrichosis Lanuginosa
- CPNeurology.org. “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome”
- My.ClevelandClinic.org “Aquagenic Pruritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment”