12 Strange Diseases and Syndromes That Doctors Know Almost Nothing About

Imagine that you go to bed, and when you wake up, you realize that you have a completely different voice. These are not fantasies from a sci-fi book, they're the real thing! These are medical conditions that are so strange, you might not have even heard of them yet.

Bright Side has found 12 very rare conditions. Their causes are still unexplored even in the 21st century.


This rare and serious genetic illness is characterized by the gradual ossification of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As you can see in the photograph of the skeleton which belonged to a person who had fibrodysplasia, their body slowly gets covered with bone tissue. The illness leads to serious deformations, loss of the ability to move normally, and premature death.

At the moment, there are no effective preventive or treatment measures, but scientists managed to find the gene that is responsible for fibrodysplasia. Right now, the clinical trial of a drug to treat this disease is being conducted. The drug is supposed to stop the ossification process.

Ehlers–Danlos syndrome

This disease disrupts the synthesis of collagen which leads to: the fragility of blood vessels, over-flexibility of the joints, dislocations, sprains, tissue deformation and other dangerous consequences. The skin of those who have this disease is elastic and very susceptible to damage and scarring.

There are several variations of this syndrome — from moderate to severe (fortunately, the latter is very rare)and in cases where the disease doesn't affect the blood vessels, it doesn't really influence life expectancy. There is no treatment at the moment, but if a patient gets the right physiotherapy, it's possible to decrease the negative effects of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.

Encephalitis lethargica

Also known as "sleeping sickness," but idifferent from the sleeping sickness that the tsetse fly transmits. Doctors believe it to be viral, but the exact virus has yet to be determined.

The disease is characterized by a high fever, sore throat, headache, weakness, tremors, and falling asleep anywhere. There is no actual treatment, so a sick person may either recover themselves, or the sickness may become chronic and last for decades.

The epidemic was first discovered in 1915–1917. Some researchers think Adolf Hitler had Encephalitis lethargica, which influenced his personality and his future decisions.

Cold urticaria

Cold urticaria is an inherited or acquired disease that's characterized by a body reacting to cold with a rash. This happens due to abnormal levels of histamine, but the mechanism that causes the increase in the levels of histamine is unclear.

A symptomatic treatment (the only treatment there is): doctors recommend patients not to get cold, take anti-histamine medications, and put special creams on the face and hands before going outside for protection from cold.


This genetic disease is also known as the vampire syndrome because a person, who has it, can't be in the sunlight without severe consequences. The spots on the skin which were exposed to ultraviolet, become inflammatory. And this inflammation can lead to an oncology disease. Eyes are in danger, too.

If a person who has xeroderma needs to go outside in the daytime, they need to take all possible precautions. For example, the boy David Middleton, who you can see on the photo, had to wear a special suit to school and spend two hours every day to out the protective cream.

Foreign accent syndrome

The reasons why this syndrome appears are unclear, but it's thought that it may appear due to a head trauma, stroke, or brain tumor. The person who has this syndrome can still speak their mother language, but their pronunciation changes so much that other people think that the person speaks with a foreign accent.

The disorder itself is not dangerous to the person's health, but people say that they feel alien in their motherlands, and their lives become harder because of the misunderstanding and sometimes mockery from other people.


Hypertrichosis is an overgrowth of hair in places where it's not considered normal, for example, on the face. Most of the time, hypertrichosis is found in men, and rarely in women. Although, the creepy bearded women from the circuses of the past could have been affected with this disorder.

Innate hypertrichosis can't be treated, but fortunately, nowadays there are a lot of ways to get rid of extra hair. Jesús Aceves, a Mexican actor affected with this disease, doesn't think that having hypertrichosis is a tragedy and lives a full life.


This disease is caused by a build up silver sediment in the body. As a result, a person's skin has a silverish or bluish color. The development of argyria happens in situations when people use a lot of products which contain silver, and it is especially common among people who work with this metal.

The most well-known person with this disease was an American man named Paul Karason who had the nickname "Papa Smurf" because he looked very similar to the cartoon character. He turned blue after he had been taking colloidal silver for a long time trying to treat his dermatitis.

Exploding head syndrome

"There is a noise that becomes louder and louder, then there is a sound of an explosion, and a bright flash of light, like someone turned on a flashlight and pointed it at my face." This is how people who suffer from exploding head syndrome describe their symptoms. And this disease is actually not that rare. If you suffer often from insomnia and stress, there is a risk that you could experience this yourself.

Scientists think that this syndrome may be caused by neural activity in the parts of the brain responsible for sound. This leads to "the explosion" and the sensation that feels like an electric shock.


This disease is also known as fish odor syndrome, and as you probably guessed, it leads to a person smelling like fish. The worst thing is that the person may not sense the smell, but other people do. This causes a lot of psychological problems and communication difficulties.

Unfortunately, there are no effective treatment methods, but according to the results of some studies, a special diet together with activated carbon and сhlorophyllin can decrease the fish odor.

Stendhal syndrome

"When I was leaving the Church of the Holy Cross, my heart started beating very fast, I felt like life was drained from me, and I walked with a fear of falling...", this is the French writer Stendhal describing his feelings after visiting Florence. The thing that the writer experienced is a psychological disorder which presents with symptoms like rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when people experience something that is of great personal significance like art, the beauty of nature, animals, or people.

It's very odd, that tourists from Asia usually don't have Stendhal syndrome, perhaps because their culture is very different. The same goes for the tourists from Italy, because they are more accustomed to being surrounded by beauty than other people.

Urbach–Wiethe disease

The patients who have this condition don't have the amygdala in their brains which means that they are unable to experience fear. There were experiments done on a patient known as S.M. that showed that people affected with this condition are not afraid of snakes, poisonous spiders, horror movies, armed robberies, and other dangers.

The only thing that can make them experience something that can remotely be described as fear, is the inhalation of a high dose of carbon dioxide which would make any healthy person panic.

Which of the diseases described in this article surprised you the most? Share your reaction in the comment section below!

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