Most of the diseases ailing people today are curable. Over the decades, scientists and doctors have laboured 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 common place doctor would shudder to diagnose one with. We present 5 of the rarest medical conditions you’ve ever heard of:
- Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva(FOP)
A very 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 disease known to man. It causes soft damaged tissues, muscles and tendons to slowly develop into bone over time. There is no effective cure and the victim effectively becomes caged by his own skeleton.
Symptoms start appearing before the age of 10 and there have been only 800 confirmed cases across the world so far. Flare-ups usually occur after physical trauma and surgery has only known to make it worse. In fact, all surgical attempts to remove the formed bone only results in an explosive bone growth in that area.
It is possible to survive upto the age of 40 years with proper assistance and treatment. In most cases, it is misdiagnosed as cancer, but the victims are born with malformed big toes or thumbs which may help distinguish the disease. One of the most famous victims
In most cases, it is misdiagnosed as cancer, but the victims are born with malformed big toes or thumbs which may help distinguish the disease. One of the most famous victims to 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, leaving him able to only move 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 sun burns and even development of skin tumours and damage to the DNA of the epidermal cells.about 1 in a million people.
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 upto their 40s. The disease affects about 1 in a million people.
This is caused due to parasitic infection – mostly caused by mosquito bites. In many cases, there are no symptoms at all 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 not very effective at removing the excessive flesh but transmission can be prevented by daily doses of certain oral concoctions. 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.
- Cotard’s Delusion
A rare mental illness which 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 stabilising drugs and antidepressants. Patients usually get better with regular psychiatric visits.
Thanks to the film Paa starring Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan, there is much more awareness about Progeria. Occurring in only 1 per 8 million live births, children afflicted with this show signs of aging from a very young age. Currently there are only 100 people who suffer from it and only 140 cases have been reported throughout history. It occurs as a result of 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 to have no affect on the child’s mental abilities – all patients had average to above average capabilities.