Anything can happen to our bodies on both a mental and physical level, and while science can diagnose a lot of it, there remains a list of very rare and strange ailments that remain unexplained.
If you ever got these, there would be no help for you, because although we have a name for them and what they cause, we have yet to explain why they occur. So here are 30 bizarre diseases science can’t explain.
Aquagenic Urticaria, also known as the water disease, is an extremely rare disease that has only ever affected about 30 people.
Those who have it are affected within minutes of being exposed to water, everything from bathing to rain, to their own tears, can cause them to break into a severe rash or hives.
In the most extreme cases, those affected are perpetually sick from their own body, as the majority of the body’s made up of water.
The most recent reported case of Aquagenic Urticaria was in 2009 when a 21-year-old from the UK was diagnosed with it. The only way for her to get her liquids is by drinking diet coke, and she can only be in the shower for a maximum of ten seconds a week.
Kuru is an incurable disease that has effects similar to that of Mad Cow.
The disease has two notable effects. The first is that is makes millions of tiny holes in your brain that grow larger over time, causing the infected person to shake uncontrollably. The second, more bizarre effect is that it causes the person to burst pathologically into laughter, making it also known as the laughing sickness.
Nobody can explain where the disease comes from, although it’s believed that it could be caused by a protein created within our own bodies that simply goes bad.
This is an especially bad disease to get, because not only is it pretty scary, but random uncontrollable laughter sounds pretty awkward.
First discovered in Tanzania in the 1960s, this bizarre disease causes those afflicted with it to nod their head uncontrollably.
It also stunts growth, making those affected with it appear much younger than they really are. It originally was never given much attention by doctors, however, in recent years, it’s made a big reemergence.
Despite the reportedly large number of cases in countries like Sudan and Uganda, doctors remain clueless as to exactly what this is.
It’s believed that it could be an illness caused by a parasite, but that’s really just a guess.
The worst part about it is that the nodding is triggered by simple everyday events, like eating, causing its victims to be malnourished, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
Sweating Sickness is a particularly frightening disease, because not only does nobody know what causes it, but death occurs within only a matter of hours of first seeing symptoms.
The disease occurs in two specific stages. The first stage is the cold stage, accompanied by violent shivers, headache, pain in the limbs, and giddy laughter. The second stage is the hot stage, which is accompanied by delirium, rapid pulse, intense thirst, and of course buckets of sweat.
There have been six different outbreaks of this disease in the past that have killed so many people so quickly, that there was no time to diagnose why it happens.
I think it’s interesting that almost all of the symptoms of this disease are identical to that of the common flu, so basically you wouldn’t know you had Sweating Sickness until you, well, died.
The Marburg virus is one of the nastier diseases on this list. It’s clinical symptoms are indistinguishable from that of the Ebola virus and include disruption of the central nervous system, tissue necrosis, and seizures, among several others that are equally disturbing.
The scariest thing about this disease is that not only does nobody know how it’s transmitted, but it’s not confined to any one part of the world. In fact, the most recent cases occurred in the Netherlands and Colorado.
It’s believed that the infection could be contracted through direct contact with an animal host, such as monkeys and bats. So basically, don’t go playing with monkeys and bats, and you should be fine.
Also known as encephalitis lethargica, this illness causes those affected to be unable to move despite being fully conscious, giving them a strange half-asleep appearance.
It begins innocently enough with a sore throat but ends in hallucinations, insanity, and an emotionless state.
Those who are lucky enough to survive this disease live the rest of their lives as unresponsive vegetables who sometimes break out in violent fits.
Neither the origin of this sickness or what causes it is known, but it’s believed to most likely be a virus of some kind.
Stiff Person Syndrome
SPS, or Stiff Person Syndrome, is a rare neurologic disease that causes the body of a person affected to become progressively rigid as time goes on.
Their muscles become increasingly constricted until eventually, their body becomes so rigid that they’re paralyzed.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there, as it has other effects as well, including problems swallowing, difficulty breathing, muscle ruptures, and even broken bones.
Now there is good news, which is that there are treatment options for those who contract this rare disease.
The bad news is that the doctors have absolutely no explanation as to why it develops or who will get it, condemning those who do get it, to spend the rest of their lives doing their best hot dog impression.
Porphyria is affectionately known as the vampire disease, and for good reason. Those affected with it get receding gums, giving them the appearance of fangs.
In addition to that, when they are exposed to light, their skin bubbles and they start pooping and peeing purple.
Scientists speculate that this could be caused by a DNA mutation, but that’s just a hypothesis.
But luckily, despite not knowing what causes it, there is treatment available, if caught early enough, so if one day, you pop a tiny Grimace in the toilet, you should definitely go see your doctor right away.
Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Disorder
This disease was named after a group of 19th-century French-Canadian lumberjacks, who lived in Maine, who started to exhibit a strange disorder that caused them to be extremely jumpy and scream over the slightest provocation.
Additionally, they also suffered from heightened suggestibility, meaning that they would act out any simple command that was yelled at them.
Interestingly, this disease only seemed to affect those French-Canadian lumberjacks, suggesting that the cause could be environmental, psychological, or genetic.
The Dancing Plague
The Dancing Plague, also known as dancing mania, is exactly as it sounds like, but it is definitely not as fun as it sounds.
It’s a mysterious disease that’s affected thousands of people over the last several centuries that causes them to dance uncontrollably until they drop from exhaustion or, in many cases, until they drop dead.
One of the most famous cases of Dancing Plague was in 1518 in France, when a woman named Frau Troffea danced for six days straight. Within a week, there were 34 others that joined her, and within a month, there were 400 people dancing uncontrollably in the streets of France, many of which just dropped dead.
To this day, there’s still no consensus among scholars as to what caused the illness, all that they know is that it was contagious.
Sudden infant death syndrome
Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS is highly feared by parents of newborns since it can take life away so quickly, and without any noticeable warning.
This syndrome is given as a cause of death when a newborn infant dies without any evidence of smothering or choking, and an autopsy cannot provide any further explanation.
SIDS is also known as crib death since it usually happens when the child is sleeping. It’s the cause of around 15,000 deaths yearly, and continues to be the leading cause of death in babies between one month old and one year old.
Making it worse is that for no known reason, the majority of SIDS cases occur when an infant is between two and four months of age.
Since science has yet to explain why these infants die, it makes it impossible to prevent, making SIDS a continued fear of parents of newborn children everywhere, as it could strike at any moment.
Exploding head syndrome
Despite its name, exploding head syndrome does not actually cause heads to literally explode. That would be insane. Instead, it’s a sleep disorder classified as parasomnia, which causes you to have loud, auditory hallucinations in your mind when you’re about to fall asleep or wake up.
Some of the noises that have been reported of those who suffer from this include bomb explosions, gun shots, firecrackers, thunder claps and loud roars.
This can be extremely distressing to those who have been affected by it, and can trigger body reactions from the stress and anxiety that it causes.
It’s also been known to cause heart palpitations and tachycardia, or rapid beating of the heart from the shock of the experience.
Now there is no actual ear pain involved from the loudness of the sounds, which points towards it being something to do with the brain rather than the ears, but scientists don’t know how or why it happens, but they think it might have something to do with stress, improper sleep or more serious brain issues.
If you’ve ever heard very loud noises in your head before you wake or before you go to sleep, consult a doctor immediately, although, unfortunately, the most that they could do for you is simply diagnose it.
Alice in Wonderland syndrome
Also known as micropsia, Alice in Wonderland syndrome was named after Dr. John Todd in 1955, who likened it to the children’s story by Lewis Carroll.
If you’re unfamiliar, the story involves Alice who at one point eats mystery food and a mystery drink labeled Eat Me and Drink Me, which causes her to grow and shrink drastically. Her change in size shifted her perspective, and ordinary things became unusually big or small. This is exactly what happens if you get micropsia.
You’ll experience periods of visual distortion which causes your eyesight to shrink things within your vision, sort of like looking the wrong way through binoculars.
In addition to vision issues, some who experience this syndrome have lost their sense of time and perceive events as if they are moving in slow-motion.
This odd syndrome has a large variety of possible causes and associations with things like migraines, seizures, brain trauma and drug use, but unfortunately, there is no determined cause for it, leaving researchers completely stumped.
People with this issue will vomit and experience extreme nausea for a certain period of time, ranging from hours to even days.
After an episode of cyclical vomiting, the symptoms will disappear for weeks and months, but they can reoccur for years and even decades.
The strange bit is that while these symptoms are not uncommon for those with a flu or stomach illness, cyclical vomiting occurs for no apparent reason. One day, you’ll be completely fine, and the next, you’ll be spending an entire day bent over a bucket or a toilet bowl. Obviously, this can really mess with a person, since sufferers are sometimes constrained to their beds for days trying to simply ride it out, and nobody is safe, as this syndrome affects all ages and is dangerous as the frequent vomiting is extremely taxing on your body, and can lead to severe dehydration.
This affliction involves mysterious outbreaks of intense diarrhea, the first of which occurred in Brainered, Minnesota in 1983. The Brainered outbreak affected 122 people, and caused them to sit through 10 to 20 sessions of diarrhea every day, lasting for around four weeks.
The symptoms include gas, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and weight loss, and most disturbingly, can last between two months to three years.
There is no treatment for the condition, but it will eventually go away without any help. Only seven known outbreaks have been reported since 1983, with six being in the United States, and one outbreak on a South American cruise ship.
Elderly are the most commonly affected, but there have been several cases of children and young adults contracting it.
Scientists are not sure why this outbreak happens, but they do know that it tends to appear in about 50 to 100 people every three years, possibly due to some sort of bacteria or parasite outbreak.
Twentieth-century disease, known more formally as multiple chemical sensitivity, or MCS, is a negative reaction caused by exposure to common chemicals used in modern products.
Sufferers experience symptoms like nausea, vertigo, anxiety, fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing and inflammation when encountering certain substances.
The problem chemicals are incorporated into products like plastics, paint fumes, petroleum, synthetic fabrics, and scented items just to name a few.
But the worst part is that there is no confirmed answer as to why this chronic medical condition exists and for some reason symptoms only present when the subject is aware of their exposure to harmful chemicals.
Tests involving placebos have shown that patients will still display symptoms when there’s no physical exposure, meaning that there is likely a psychological factor.
MCS can also be quite difficult to diagnose, since the symptoms involved are apparent in many other illnesses, and the environmental triggers are hard to single out, because they’re so commonly found everywhere.
Pica disorder has an extremely strange effect on those who develop it. They begin craving items that bear no nutritional value, and that is not traditionally eaten, or even edible, for that matter.
If you get pica, you’ll start to develop an intense appetite for things like clay, dirt, plaster, paint, ice, hair, chalk and metal, just to name some.
Much like an episode of My Strange Addiction, people with pica disease will eat all sorts of unhealthy and disgusting things because they actually want to eat them. That’s right, imagine intensely desiring to eat plaster off of your wall, or couch cushion filling. It mainly seems to affect pregnant women, young kids and people with developmental disabilities.
However, doctors have no knowledge of the potential causes for pica, but there is some speculation around it being the body’s reaction to having a mineral deficiency.
Interestingly, the name for pica is actually the Latin word for magpie, which is a bird that seems to eat just about anything that it comes across.
Bleeding calf syndrome
Bleeding calf syndrome is a disease that very, fortunately, does not affect humans, but does spell a gruesome end for innocent calves.
Calves that get this horrible syndrome will bleed profusely from their nose, ears, and skin. Like something out of a horror movie, calves who get this will have blood seeping from every orifice, and will eventually bleed to death.
Once the symptoms start there’s little that can be done to treat it, and the calves will usually die after a couple of days.
It was first recorded in the United Kingdom in 2009, and so far scientists know that the bleeding is caused by the destruction of the calves’ bone marrow.
Bone marrow is responsible for creating platelets which help clot your blood and prevent it from leaving your body.
Whatever is eating away at their bone marrow is a mystery, but it does present a threat to the species, with a 95% mortality rate and a current death toll of over 2,000.
Moebius syndrome is an odd disease that affects the facial muscles, paralyzing them.
If you got this, you’d lose the ability to perform even the simplest facial actions, like blinking, smiling, frowning, squinting or even looking side-to-side.
This can cause facial structures to change and droop, and it can cause people to think that they’re unfriendly or mentally disabled.
People with this syndrome have delayed speech due to difficulty in moving their lips and tongue, but with therapy, most can reach a level of speech that is understandable by others.
However, as it progresses it causes much more serious problems, including difficulty breathing and swallowing. Moebius syndrome is a genetic disease that can be inherited, but most commonly and scarily occurs at random, with no history of the disease in the family.
This causes extreme difficulty when researching it, since it does not follow much of a pattern, but there is speculation that it forms as part of an environmental factor or genetic defect.
Morgellons disease is an awful affliction that affects the mind, and leads its sufferers to believe that they are being bit or stung all over their bodies by something.
People who suffer from this believe that there are parasites all over their face and body.
Another strange symptom involves reports of strange fibers protruding from the skin which is made up of cotton.
This disease will cause you to scratch and peel away at your skin, leaving large sores all over your body.
The disease has presented itself in children as young as two years old, but most commonly affects middle-aged white women.
Surprisingly, Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell diagnosed herself as suffering from Morgellons Disease in 2010.
While it’s a serious affliction, not much is known or understood about the disease, which makes it even scarier to get.
Foreign accent syndrome
Imagine waking up one day to find that you’re suddenly speaking in an accent that you’ve never even tried to impersonate before.
That has been the case for at least 62 people all of whom were diagnosed with a condition called foreign accent syndrome.
Inexplicably these people sound to the people around them like they’re from a totally different region, country or even continent. Unable to come up with a reason for it doctors dismissed the condition as a psychiatric issue, but in 2002 scientists from Oxford University discovered that three different sufferers all had the same abnormalities in their brains.
Foreign accent syndrome is most often diagnosed after a person with it has suffered a stroke, head trauma, migraines or developmental issues, but little else is known about this bizarre condition.
Peruvian meteorite illness
Late at night on September 15th, 2007 a bright orange streak appeared in the sky above the Andes Mountain Range in South America. Crashing down in a field near Carancas, a village in Peru, the fireball which many suspected to be a plane was found to actually be a meteorite. Immediately the farmers who investigated the crater the crash left behind smelled something strange.
A short time later they, along with the police who arrived at the scene, began complaining about headaches and vomiting and it wasn’t long before many of the 500 people living in the area began experiencing similar symptoms confusing scientists.
Nearly a week later they concluded that it was arsenic poisoning from groundwater that had evaporated. However only usually the meteorites impact the Earth cold, not hot.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS is a truly debilitating condition. In addition to fatigue, symptoms have been known to include sore throat, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, headaches, muscle, and joint pain and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and armpits.
Although it affects people of almost any age chronic fatigue syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 40 and 59 years old.
Research has also shown that women are much more likely to suffer from the condition than men are.
Stress, hormonal imbalances, viral infections and immune system issues have all been suspected as the cause of the illness, but doctors still have no solid explanation for it or why it affects some people but not others. The only way to test it is to rule out all other explanations.
The common cold
This one may be surprising but a disease that’s been tormenting human beings throughout recorded history, the common cold ravages not just our bodies but the economies that we live in.
It’s been estimated that in the U.S. alone 40% of work missed happens because of having a cold. The total economic impact because of this is over $20 billion every year.
A viral infectious disease, the common cold attacks the body’s upper respiratory tract, specifically the nose and throat.
Having one usually leads to a runny nose, cough, sore throat, congestion, and other debilitating symptoms.
Despite heavy research into the common cold doctors and scientists still, know very little about it outside of the fact that there seems to be literally hundreds of ways to contract one.
Officially known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome or simply progeria for short this extremely rare genetic disorder affects one in four million babies born worldwide.
Children suffering from progeria often get illnesses and conditions that are more commonly found in adults over the age of 50 years old such as skeletal degeneration, loss of body fat or muscle, hip dislocations, loss of eyesight and even heart disease which leads to strokes or heart attacks.
Though doctors can help reduce the number and severity of complications that arise from having progeria there’s still no known treatment.
Science simply doesn’t have a strong enough understanding of it and because of this tragically most patients with this condition don’t make it to even 14 years old.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
The only known medical condition someone can have in which one organ system literally changes into another, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva or FOP affects about one in every two million people globally and has left scientists without an explanation.
Due to a mutation in the body’s repair mechanism damaged fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and muscles become ossified, meaning they regrow but as bone instead of soft tissue that they used to be. This restricts movement starting in the joints and jaw meaning walking and even speaking can become difficult or even impossible.
This can lead to eating and breathing issues meaning this relatively unknown, incurable disease takes over the body until the body stops working altogether.
Gulf War syndrome
Gulf War syndrome is a multi-symptomatic chronic disorder that affects nearly 36% of the United States Military veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991.
Out of the 697,000 service people, nearly 250,000 of them came down with this condition which doctors couldn’t explain and still can’t to this day.
Symptoms have reportedly included muscle pain, fatigue, rashes, diarrhea, and even neurological and cognitive issues.
The more severe cases have even led to the growth of terminal tumors in those suffering from it. While it’s been speculated that Gulf War syndrome may stem from pesticides, chemical warfare, smoke from burning oils or even depleted uranium no solid reason for it has ever been proven, nor is there any explanation for why it only affects veterans.
People suffering from schizophrenia may show symptoms such as social withdrawal, disorganized thinking and speech, delusions, lack of motivation or emotional and sudden poor judgment, and that’s just naming a few of them.
But the symptom that’s most commonly associated with this disorder is hallucinations. Whether they’re only auditory or visual or both these false perceptions often make subjects with schizophrenia lose track of what’s actually real and what’s not which can not only be terrifying for the individual and those around them but extremely dangerous.
Doctors and scientists have called schizophrenia the most puzzling of all mental disorders and there’s no cure or even a medical test for the disease.
Mad cow disease
Mad cow disease is a fatal condition in cattle that attacks the animal’s brain and spinal cord and one which science has yet to figure out. Fortunately, research shows that human beings cannot contract mad cow disease.
However, unfortunately, we are able to get the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
A degenerative, fatal brain disorder from the consumption of the brain or nerve tissue of infected cows.
The scariest thing about CJD is that people who get it always lose their lives to it. The disease creates holes in the brain and attacks the central nervous system.
Eventually, the person suffering from it becomes unable to move, slips into a coma and never wakes up.
Experts don’t yet know what causes CJD, nor do they really know how to look for it.
One of the most feared diseases among the aging population, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
This scary condition affects 10% of people over 65 years old with 5.7 million people with the disease in the United States alone.
Not simply a disease of old age, Alzheimer’s also affects 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 with the youngest to be diagnosed to date being just 27 years old.
The biggest symptom is memory loss which over time can become very dangerous. Little is understood about the disease despite the huge amount of research being conducted in regards to it.
Of all the things that take lives in the United States Alzheimer’s ranks sixth and unfortunately, while doctors can help reduce the symptoms and slow the condition’s progress there’s absolutely no cure.