Rare diseases refer to the diseases that affect a very small percentage of the population. They fall under a wide variety of symptoms and disorders that differ from disease to disease as well as patient to patient suffering. 80% of the conditions have a genetic origin whereas the rest may be caused by allergies, infections or environmental factors.
Every year, the Rare Disease Day is sponsored by the NIH to raise awareness about rare diseases among the masses as well as the policy makers. This year the global theme for Rare Disease Day is: “bridging health and social care.”
With the Rare Disease Day approaching towards the end of February, let’s talk about some rare medical conditions that are present around the world.
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Alice in wonderland syndrome:
This syndrome has been named after Lewis Carroll’s book i.e. similarly titled. This rare medical condition, with a prevalence of 10-20%, is associated with migraine and the sufferer perceives objects to be far smaller than they are. This condition can also affect touch, hearing or even the perception of their own image.
In this rare medical condition, thread-like blue or black fibers appear under the skin accompanied by stinging, crawling and biting sensation. Nearly 14,000 people suffer from this illness that is also characterized by memory impairment, changes in vision and joint pain. Amongst the medical professionals, this condition is famous as the ‘fiber disease’ and there is no known cause behind it.
Foreign Accent Syndrome:
Of this interesting disease, there are only 60 recorded patients. Patients of this syndrome have a speech disorder so that native speakers talk in a manner that is perceived as ‘foreign accent’. Early on, this was dismissed as a psychological problem by the doctors; however, later research in the UK revealed that people suffering from this had similar abnormalities in their brain anatomy. This disorder may result from trauma, stroke or even multiple sclerosis.
Laughing death or Kuru:
This incurable disease is almost completely eradicated, however, it is important because it has greatly impacted scientific research. This rare medical condition occurred in 1950s due to the practice of cannibalism on corpses in New Guinea. The symptoms of Kuru included bursts of maniacal laughter, as well as shaking limbs, inability to retain balance and eventually death within a year. It resulted in a “swiss-cheesing” of brain, which was the term used to describe the holes that emerged in the brain of the deceased patients.
Another rare medical condition, with about 30 reported cases, is that of water allergy or aquagenic urticaria. This condition occurs more commonly in women and may be associated with hormonal imbalance. Although the exact cause is unknown, it may be a hypersensitivity reaction to the ions present in non-distilled water.
You may be suffering from these or some other medical conditions. In such a case, it is critical to get proper medical consultation.
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