8 Outrageous Medical Conditions That Actually Exist

Many children are born with autism, ADHD, or epilepsy. Bring them to a doctor, and they will unquestionably be able to deduce the problem with your child in a single visit. However, what if your child wouldn’t stop pulling their hair out? Or they thought they were dead? Most doctors would be baffled or even laugh at this kind of an issue. Both of these conditions exist, and they plague both children and adults, albeit in small numbers, across the globe. The odd range of symptoms can put your own problems into perspective for the better; if you think you have it bad, try living with a condition that makes it virtually impossible for you to bathe. Below, we’ve gathered some of the most bizarre medical conditions known to man, some with only a handful of representatives to speak out about their unique illness.

  1. Gourmand Syndrome

    Imagine waking up from a serious accident with the odd side effect of having the compulsion to only eat aged cheeses, fois gras, and truffles. For those that suffer Gourmand Syndrome, this is a reality. The rare disease was first identified in the 1990s. When the right hemisphere of the brain is subjected to a tumor, trauma, or stroke, the patient can develop an obsession for fine foods. The syndrome is so consuming that it can cause people to make career changes so they can be in an industry that involves food. For example, a political journalist in Switzerland was diagnosed with Gourmand Syndrome after a stroke when he became suddenly completely immersed in the topic of fine dining. He left his job as a political journalist and became a food columnist. His cravings for fine cuisine were constant and socially alienating, as all he wanted to talk about was food. You might think that, of all the side effects of a stroke, a permanent fascination with “the snob diet” seems pretty harmless. Yet, when it takes a toll on your job and relationships, it can be a tad extreme.

  2. Aquagenic Urticaria

    Someone with Aquagenic Urticaria can’t swim without encountering extreme pain. They also can’t shower, lounge in a bubble bath, step out into the rain, sweat, or even cry without the risk of at least breaking out into hives. When drinking a glass of water, which is critical for hydration, their throat may feel like it’s going to close up or become extremely itchy. This is because people with Aquagenic Urticaria are allergic to water in all of its forms. They will even be affected by someone else’s sweat or tears, so close contact should be avoided. Oral antihistamines can provide mild, temporary relief, but not enough to be able to have sustained exposure to water. And even when they do take short showers for bathing purposes, they are advised to use cold water, which lessens the pain associated with the condition.

  3. Foreign Accent Syndrome

    Foreign Accent Syndrome is a rare condition caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls speech. It causes you to — you guessed it — spontaneously develop a foreign accent. It is usually caused by some sort of trauma, like a stroke. However, in the case of Karen Butler, the foreign accent was acquired after mere dental work. After she resurfaced from anesthesia with a swollen mouth, her speech had permanently changed to a blend of British and Irish accents. She was raised in Oregon and she’s never even traveled to Europe. The syndrome first came to be in the 1940s and there have only been about 100 cases since then, including a British woman who developed a Chinese accent after a stroke and a Norwegian woman who received blunt trauma to the head during World War II and developed a rather tragic German accent. Some are able to recover their old intonations via speech therapy, but others must adjust to the change and deal with a lifetime of awkward misunderstandings about their heritage.

  4. Hyperthymesic Syndrome

    There have only been four known cases of it, but Hyperthymesic Syndrome is a condition in which people remember literally everything they’ve come to know throughout their lifetime. The condition allows them to extract memories from childhood as clearly as you’d watch a home movie, and they can also easily recite dates and large passages of information from things they’ve read. A few of them have taken advantage of this extraordinary syndrome en lieu of memory-centric contests and games. In one case, Jill Price’s outstanding memory recall was observed through MRI brain scans. The doctors found several portions of her brain to be significantly larger than average. Despite this, in most of the cases, Hyperthymesic Syndrome does not signify increased intelligence. Having the world’s best memory may come in handy for a test, but not necessarily because you comprehend the information; the syndrome simply allows one to regurgitate facts and moments from the past as they were presented to them. Likewise, it’s not always good to remember things. Everyone has memories they’d rather keep locked away, which is impossible for someone with this condition.

  5. Walking Corpse Syndrome

    Also known as Cotard’s Syndrome, Walking Corpse Syndrome is when a person comes to believe that they are dead, missing body parts, or rotting. In a world increasingly obsessed with zombies, this disease is a bit too real. It is named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist who discovered the syndrome in 1882. It may be caused by depression or brain injury, and is potentially linked to Capgras delusion, in which people forget their own face or the faces of others. These people may believe they are dead, and thus have rotting flesh and do not need to eat, sleep, or do anything else that regular living people need to do. Electroconvulsive therapy is the only known therapy and only a percentage of those that engage in it recover to their normal selves. Antipsychotics, on the other hand, seem to have no effect on the condition.

  6. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

    Alice in Wonderland Syndrome describes an odd combination of symptoms in which a person will be under the delusion that parts of their body or their environment are sized incorrectly. For example, they may believe that they have unusually large hands, or that they are a very large person in a very tiny room. It is named as such because Alice experienced such sensations in the Lewis Carroll novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Other senses may be distorted as well. They may see distances as shorter as or longer than they are, misconstrue time perception, or have a distorted sense of sounds around them. The syndrome has symptoms characteristic of someone under the influence of psychedelic drugs without the actual presence of drugs. It is most common in children and can be brought on by a migraine, epilepsy, or mono. There is no proven treatment, although some children grow out of it when puberty occurs.

  7. Trichotillomania

    Trichotillomania is a disorder in which the person has an uncontrollable need to yank out their own hair. You may be imagining a rather cartoonish image of someone, in a fit of anger, pulling their hair out in clumps. However, for Jena Metts, a 20-year-old from Kentucky, the disorder takes the shape of pulling her hairs out strand by strand, ever so calmly. Though she tells herself to stop, she is completely unable to do so, and is almost bald because of it. Trichotillomania, also known as “trich,” is thought to be linked to Tourette’s syndrome, in which people are plagued by involuntary tics. A staggering 11 million people in the United States have Trich, and it causes them to pull out all body hair, not just the hair on their head. Even eyelashes are subject to pulling. There is no known cure for Trich. Fits of hair-pulling may be induced by stress, depression, or guilt over having recently pulled hair out, so it can be somewhat of a never-ending cycle. It may seem like the act would cause pain, but most people with Trich say that pulling their hair out gives them a sense of pleasure or relief.

  8. Synesthesia

    Synesthesia is best identified as an intermingling of the senses, in which one may see what they hear, experience colors and movement with various words or sounds, or any other combination of the senses. For most that experience it, it isn’t particularly problematic, and may even enrich certain experiences such as going to a concert or viewing a painting. The condition is neurological and as many as 1% of the world population has it, including past figures such as Vladimir Nabokov, Richard Feynman, and Franz Liszt. One of the few facts that has been deduced about Synesthesia is that it runs in families. However, the specific gene that carries Synesthesia has yet to be discovered. Some scientists think Synesthesia may be caused by having excess brain connections that normally disappear after infancy, since infants tend to have prolific cross-wiring between the parts of the brain. Other scientists speculate Synesthesia is a form of autism. Contrary to what you may think, those with Synesthesia are not more prone to go into an artistic profession.