Gigantism is characterized by excessive growth, making a person much taller than the average human. Some people can get up to nine feet tall! It results from a rare disorder that affects the growth hormone so that it never stops being produced. However, this constant release of this growth hormone occurs before the growth plate fuses, which can lead to painful joints and limbs. The enlarged body size tends to stress specific organs, such as the circulatory system and the heart.
The skeletal system is also affected; many who have gigantism tend to need help walking with a cane or some other mobility device. Studies show that most cases of gigantism result from a tumor growing on the pituitary gland within the brain. There are only a few cases where gigantism can be passed on through a mutated gene.
Pterygium is also called a surfer’s eye and is a fleshy growth that appears on the eye’s conjunctive tissue. The leading cause of this disease is excessive exposure to UV light. Eyes can become red, swollen, and irritated. As the pterygium grows, it can impact vision, causing it to be blocked or blurred. However, the pterygium doesn’t continue to grow in all cases. Those most prone to pterygium are those who spend a lot of time outdoors, are exposed to a lot of UV light, and are primarily found in adults who live near the equator.
Usual signs include red and irritated eyes, slightly-raised pink growth, dry eyes, and the sensation of grit in the eye. As it continues, the growth can get bigger, and vision can be impacted over time. Most treatment options for pterygium include eye drops for lubrication and/or to reduce irritation and swelling. Doctors usually recommend surgery when vision starts to decline.
Exploding head syndrome is a real disorder that negatively impacts a person’s quality of life. In trying to fall asleep, a person’s systems start to slow into a state of rest. But for someone with exploding head syndrome, neurons can sometimes misfire. In this disorder, the person will suddenly hear a loud sound that scares them awake, but this sound never occurred. The condition is harmless, but it can be distressing, and the interruption to the regular sleep pattern can adversely affect one’s health.
Thankfully, the misfire doesn’t happen regularly. However, on the downside, it becomes difficult to know when it will be triggered so that people living with exploding head syndrome can prepare for it or take some precautionary steps. The most common trigger seems to be stress and extreme fatigue, so reducing these as much as possible in one’s life can minimize the chances of misfiring.
This one was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. A man came into the hospital drunk – but hadn’t consumed a drop. Turns out, auto-brewery syndrome was the culprit. And it’s very real. The person’s digestive organs can produce alcohol when there is a particular type of yeast in the gut. As a result, the person with this syndrome will display all signs of being drunk without actually drinking.
Specific yeasts in the gut can produce this “drunk” effect; the problem lies when their numbers become too high in the stomach. Ethanol is made in the digestion process, which creates the drunk effect. This overgrowth is more prominent in those with liver cirrhosis, diabetes, or Crohn’s disease.
Methemoglobinemia is a disorder that is related to the blood and is the result of there being very little oxygen in the red blood cells. This results in the pigmentation of the skin is somewhat blue since there is no oxygenation to the extremities. There are other health complications as well, such as difficulties breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive salivation, feeling extremely lethargic, and losing consciousness.
It is an inherited disorder but can also result from exposure to certain drugs or chemicals. Removing the cause will improve the condition. The most common treatment for this disorder is methylene blue, which converts the ferric iron in the hemoglobin into ferrous iron so it can be more readily absorbed. Other treatment options include blood transfusions, oxygen therapy, and ascorbic acid to reduce the methemoglobin level in the blood.
Brain stones, also called cerebral calculi, are calcifications found inside the skull. A young Brazilian male reported having throbbing headaches and problems with his vision, and doctors found brain stones. The doctors believed that the brain stones resulted from complications with celiac disease, which the man didn’t know he had. The only treatment for brain stones is removed through surgery.
Because brain stones are so rare, there isn’t much literature about the subject, and, as a result, there is no definitive cause for the stones forming. One of the most common symptoms caused by brain stones is headaches, seizures, and behavioral changes. Over time, without treatment, these symptoms only get worse and increase in frequency.
Progeria is one of the strangest disorders out there. It appears during the early onset of children, usually at the age of 1. However, children never get any bigger by age five, leading to very short stature. By the time a child becomes 10, they already have the appearance of an older adult, with thin skin, pronounced formation of blood vessels, thinning hair, and vascular disease. It’s as if the child is experiencing rapid aging.
Heart disease develops at this point, and most individuals with the disorder pass away before they reach 30. There is no treatment or cure for the condition, and it is also not an inherited disorder. It is the result of a spontaneous mutation of a gene, so there is no way to predict that this disorder will appear.
Aarskog syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects overall appearance, as well as the skeleton, muscles, and stature. The parts of the body most affected are the face, toes, and fingers. A diagnosis is usually made at the time of birth because of the presence of facial abnormalities: expanded width of the forehead, drooping of the eyelids, wide-set eyes, descending slant of the eye-opening, and hair growth at the widow’s peak.
Treatment of the syndrome is spread across the treatment of the different symptoms, including dental specialists, speech pathologists, cardiologists, eye specialists, and hearing specialists. You can have growth hormones to help improve height in children and ask about genetic counseling to assess the recurrent risk in families.