Ever seen a parasitic twin!!? Can an individual spontaneously produce pure alcohol in the stomach? Have you seen someone smells so strongly like a fish? Or maybe you’ve heard of people always scratching their skin as if there are all manner of things crawling, biting and stinging them below the surface of their skin.
We are well aware of medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, however there exists lots of rare diseases that very many of us never get to know about!!! Would you like to join me on this fascinating ride, as we bring to the spotlight four of the rarest and strangest medical conditions on record? Grab a cup of tea and let’s ride!!!
While it is true that majority of us experience drunkenness and some feelings of highness after some heavy partying, especially if we took a few drinks of alcohol, there are some people however, who become intoxicated even without ingesting alcohol at all. They display signs of drunkenness yet they were not found guilty of taking alcohol. These set of people have a medical condition called Auto-brewery syndrome also called gut fermentation syndrome. For people living with this condition, they may feel especially high immediately after they have eaten carbohydrate-rich foods because pure alcohol is produced in such person’s gut.
The major product behind that is the micro-organism Saccharomyces Cerevisiae- a type of yeast found in the gut that initiates the fermentation process producing ethanol (pure alcohol). It does not however mean that people living with this condition are totally unable to control themselves or they become totally senseless, unaware of whatever is happening to them at the moment….no!. This is because the medical condition, generally do not lead to high levels of blood alcohol. However, the degree to which drunkenness is manifested varies according to the degree to which one has the medical condition, since there are varying degree of the syndrome.
Since the liver processes ethanol too, people with some form of liver problem may also experience a kind of auto-brewery syndrome because alcohol accumulates and linger much longer in the system.
Common symptoms include belching, chronic fatigue syndrome, dizziness, hangover, disorientation and others. Fortunately this medical condition can be managed through dietary changes, switching to food with low carbohydrates and high protein content. The affected individual could also take antibiotics and antifungal therapies.
Normally we scratch the surface of our skin a few time each day, there is however a new extremely weird disease in town called “Morgellon’s disease”. This disease was given its name only about a decade ago. Individuals who are afflicted with this disease have a constant urge to scratch their skin, and as a result are prone to insomnia and terrible skin lesions. Patients in real sense do not have disease causing organism under their skin, but feel these sensations due to ‘delusional infestation’ a false feeling of being infected by parasites.
What does a parasitic twin mean? When a pair of twin embryo developing in the uterus does not fully separate, and one embryo dominates the other, the weaker twin stops developing and turns into what is called a ‘parasitic twin’. The parasitic twin is a non-functional, non-conscious collection of extra body parts attached to the healthy remaining twin. It is possible that the healthy twin is born and grows up packing the extra weight sometimes however, the parasitic twin is removed. There was a weird case in an Asian continent, where a three-year old absorbed his twin into his stomach while the two were gestating in their mother’s womb. Funny right!!?
FISH ODOR SYNDROME
The fish odor syndrome is also known as trimethylaminuria, individuals with this syndrome emit an unpleasant odor similar to the smell of rotting fish, either through their sweat, urine or exhaled breath. This is due to the inability of the body to break down the organic compound trimethylamine, trimethylamine produces a strong ‘fishy’ smell, thereby producing the fish odor. FMO3 gene is responsible for giving the body instruction to produce enzymes that break down organic compound trimethylamine, therefore it is highly possible that the fish odor syndrome occurs in people who have specific mutations of the FMO3 gene.
Individuals with this syndrome vary in the strength of their odor, however the medical condition generally affect the person’s day-to-day life and mental health, bringing stigma and marred reputation to sufferers. Anxiety, loneliness and even attempted suicide are some of the worst effects of this syndrome on afflicted ones.
Managing the ‘fish odor syndrome’ include dietary changes such that trimethylamine precursors are reduced or even eliminated, this means that trimethylamine is either completely absent in the individuals body or has been significantly reduced. Individuals living with this medical condition should avoid marine fish, eggs, mustard seeds, chicken, beef liver, as well as raw soyabeans. These food materials consist of trimethylamine N-oxide, one of the precursors to trimethylamine.
Hmm… quite a ride isn’t it? Well, if you ever doubted any of the questions at the beginning of this article, you sure must be amused about how strange how world is, we live a completely normal live in a strange world, until another episode of “Weird truths” come your way, Bye!!
AYODELE OLUWATAYO .M
UNIVERSITY OF MEDICAL SCIENCES, ONDO STATE, NIGERIA