Most of the diseases ailing people today are curable. Over the decades, scientists and doctors have labored alike to find treatments and cures for every disease under the sun.
While research for some like Alzheimer’s and chronic cancer is still on track – often perpetuated by breakthroughs, there are many conditions which are barely known to man and which have hardly been studied (as compared to others) due to their rarity – diseases which a commonplace doctor would shudder to diagnose one with.
We present 5 of the rarest medical conditions you’ve ever heard of:
A rare genetic condition of abnormal connective tissue affecting 1 out of 2 million people, Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva or FOP, is one of the most debilitating diseases known to man. It causes soft, damaged tissues, muscles, and tendons to develop into bone over time slowly. There is no effective cure, and the victim is eventually caged in his own skeleton.
Symptoms start appearing before the age of 10, and there have only been 800 confirmed cases across the world so far. Flare-ups usually occur after physical trauma, and surgery has only been known to make it worse. In fact, all surgical attempts to remove the formed bone only result in explosive bone growth in that area.
It is possible to survive up to the age of 40 years with proper assistance and treatment. It is misdiagnosed as cancer in most cases, but the victims are born with malformed big toes or thumbs which may help distinguish the disease.
One of the most famous victims of this disease is Harry Eastlack (1933-1973), whose skeleton is on display in Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. At the time of death, his entire body had ossified, including his jaw bone, allowing him to move only his lips.
- Xeroderma Pigmentosum, “Vampire Syndrome”
Another rare genetic disorder where the victim’s body is deficient in its ability to repair the damage caused by UV lights. Exposure to sunlight can lead to severe sunburns and even the development of skin tumors and damage to the DNA of the epidermal cells. About 1 in a million people fall prey to this horrid genetical disorder.
In extreme cases, victims have to be completely cut off from being exposed to sunlight. The only treatment is to avoid sunlight exposure. Less than 40% of the affected individuals make it past their 20s. Those with less severe cases may live up to their 40s. The disease affects about 1 in a million people.
This is caused due to parasitic infection – mostly caused by mosquito bites. There are no symptoms at all in many cases, but in others, it causes the victim’s lower half of the body to swell to massive proportions.
No vaccines are available, and surgery is ineffective at removing the excessive flesh, but daily doses of certain oral concoctions can prevent transmission. The severally affected region is mainly central and south Africa. The disease has been eliminated in several countries by the efforts of WHO, but official confirmation has not been given yet.
A rare mental illness that causes the affected person to believe that they’re dead or immortal. The patient suffers from a delusion that they are not living but are dead; they think their organs are decaying and their body is in a state of degeneration.
The afflicted person recedes from public interaction, neglects personal health and hygiene, have urges to visit the graveyard, and in many cases, may also develop schizophrenia. Some die from starvation as they think they no longer have to eat.
It can usually be cured the same way depression is cured – mood-stabilizing drugs and antidepressants. Patients usually get better with regular psychiatric visits.
Thanks to Paa, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan, there is much more awareness about Progeria. Occurring in only 1 per 8 million births, children afflicted with this disease show signs of aging from a very young age. There are only 100 people who suffer from it, and only 140 cases have been reported throughout history. It occurs due to a genetic mutation, and rarely is it inherited, for the carriers barely live long enough to reproduce.
The average life expectancy of a child suffering from Progeria is 13 years, with the most common causes of death being heart strokes. As of yet, no effective treatment has been found. However, the disease seems not to affect the child’s mental abilities – all patients had average to above-average capabilities.
It is so important to be aware of such diseases. It gives us a better insight into the entire human species.
Just your everyday perpetually cash-strapped teenager.