Did That Really Happen? Strange Medical Cases

Throughout the centuries, medical advancements and various studies have revealed some strange, often very rare, diseases and conditions. Some of these are so rare, in fact, 100 people or less have ever been known to be afflicted. Below are two examples of such medical rarities from CNN Health.

Aquagenic Urticaria – The Water Allergy

Yes, you read that correctly; water allergy. This condition is extremely rare as it has only affected around 30 people, but to those suffering with this disease, it is truly a struggle. With about 71% of the Earth’s surface covered by water, and about 60% of the human body being composed of water, water is essential for survival and completely unavoidable. But for one woman, Rachel Warwick, this is her reality. With her condition, the water only seems to become a problem when it comes in contact with her skin, resulting in a painful, swollen intensely itchy rash. So just avoid rain and swimming, right? But when you realize all of the places water can come from – including your own sweat – it becomes a daunting thing to avoid. She can only shower briefly once a week, cannot exercise, and only drinks milk to hydrate, as the reaction isn’t as bad as straight water. While there are many theories as to the cause of this reaction, no definitive answer has yet been found, so treatment of symptoms is quite limited. While a possible cure could be out there, the promising drug requires a clinical trial to be approved for use, and with so few patients available with the condition to test, it is virtually impossible to perform the study or, unfortunately, for the company to justify the cost.

Foreign Accent Syndrome

It can be fun to speak in different accents from time-to-time, but what if you had no control over the change, or what accent you were using for that matter? That is essentially what happens to patients affected by Foreign Accent Syndrome. According to WebMD, this condition does not change the native language spoken, just the accent in which it is delivered. This rare condition is typically brought on by brain damage from stroke or other traumatic brain injury and, within the last century, has only been documented in about 100 patients. When it originally occurred, people thought it was faked or linked to a psychiatric issue, but some patients had developed accents that they have never even been previously exposed to. From the cases that have been reviewed, the accent changes have been:

  • British English to French or Chinese
  • American English to British English
  • Spanish to Hungarian
  • Japanese to Korean

All of the cases have only occurred in adults and while they are still able to speak and communicate, it can be a frustrating condition and cause social anxiety. Because of its rarity, not much research has been done to cure the problem. Some cases have resolved without intervention within a matter of months, while others have had to deal with the change permanently. However, it could be possible to help those afflicted by utilizing a speech and language therapist.

Sometimes with conditions such as these, it can feel like there’s so much with the human body and mind that we have yet to understand, but as the medical profession continues to advance, more unknown afflictions can be brought to light and those suffering can get the help and understanding they need.