10 Unusual Symptoms To Mostly Common Ailments
When exposed to a constant diet of disease-related information, it is not uncommon for medical students to develop a form of hypochondria called medical student syndrome. And though no one has coined a term for the tendency to self-diagnose rare diseases on the basis of a symptom and an Internet search, the proliferation of health-related information available in the news and on the Web has led many a health consumer to mentally leap from a dull ache to certain death. Common symptoms usually point to common problems, but that doesn’t diminish our fascination with the subtle, unusual clues our bodies may be sending us. Following are some unlikely symptoms that may send an early warning of trouble ahead. But reader beware: Sometimes a lump is only a lump.
The truly bizarre
And, finally, thank goodness if you don’t have the symptoms of what is currently called Morgellons disease. It’s not common—it doesn’t even have an “official” name yet—but it does have some very strange symptoms: “a range of cutaneous (skin) symptoms including crawling, biting and stinging sensations; granules, threads, fibers or black speck-like materials on or beneath the skin,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, some with the affliction say that the fibers can be white, blue, black and red, and can be as thick as a spaghetti strand. Pulling them out causes searing pain.
Zzzzs mean disease?
Some of the strangest symptoms might be the most simple. In this case: sleepiness. That’s right—if you have persistent sleepiness, it might be a sign that you have narcolepsy. Many think of the more cinematic symptom of cataplexy, the sudden loss of muscle control that can include temporary paralysis. But it’s not the most common sign. And, if you think narcolepsy is a rare condition, experts estimate that it’s as common as MS.
Does it smell like nail polish remover even though there’s none around? Does your partner think he or she is kissing a bottle of it when you get intimate? It could be a sign that you have diabetes. Acetone, the major ingredient in polish remover, is found naturally in the body. However, when your body does not have enough insulin, or can’t make use of it, fat is used for energy instead of glucose, and acetone levels rise. In fact, the medical profession and researchers have known about acetone breath for ages. In August, two researchers from Mississippi State University published a study on their new medical device that uses the acetone in breath to detect early-stage diabetes.
Sniffing out Alzheimer’s
Does a rose suddenly not smell as sweet? This unfortunate occurrence could be a symptom of a cold—or it could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have recently linked problems with the proboscis with a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. By the way, loss of smell could also be a warning sign for Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
An eye on MS?
Speaking of MS, you might “see” you have it long before other symptoms present themselves. Often, blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion or even blindness in one eye is the first sign of the disease. Optic neuritis, the inflammation or demyelination of the optic nerve that causes blurring or loss of vision usually in one eye, indicates eventually developing MS in 40 percent of those experiencing the symptom. However, blurry vision is also a possible sign of diabetes—or maybe just a hangover.
Epilepsy in sight?
And there’s more to consider if you’re having sight issues. You might have heard those of a New Age bent talk about “auras,” but a different kind of visual aura could be a sign of epilepsy. This visual hallucination can actually be a sign of seizure that’s less commonly thought of in connection with the disease. These “smaller” temporal-lobe seizures might also be accompanied by a sense of déjà vu and repetitive lip-smacking.
Armed against Parkinson’s
In the realm of strange physical symptoms, Parkinson’s disease has many. But one in particular is an early and easily detectable possible sign—an arm that doesn’t swing when you walk. This automatic movement, like blinking, can be diminished or lost with the onset of Parkinson’s. Scientists have discovered that with the disease, dopamine-releasing nerve-cell destruction causes difficulties with motion. Dopamine normally transmits signals that produce smooth controlled movement.
Heeling back pain
There’s a stabbing pain in your heel, which might seem odd considering that you’re not a runner. But, you might have a fairly common and painful problem—a herniated disc. Heel pain in this case is caused by the sciatic nerve, which runs from the back to the heel. In some cases the pain might run down the entire leg, but—even stranger—it might also just be felt in the heel.
Don’t jaw about it
At the other end of the body, don’t fool around with jaw pain—it could just save your life. One of the stranger signs of heart attack, jaw pain could be the early warning sign that gives you enough time to find help before it’s too late. The discomfort is really radiating from the chest, and might also be felt in the back and arms.
Twitchy about ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating disease that might present itself with the most banal of symptoms—muscle twitching or cramping. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that causes nerve destruction and, hence, degeneration of muscle control. Another early sign of the disease is painless weakness in one hand.
Now, while having any of the above symptoms might be worth checking out, running to the doctor because you have a muscle twitch might be overreacting. As Dr. Edward Garbacz, an Atlanta-based board-certified internist says, “Doctors know—and patients should believe—that there is no one symptom that is predictive of one particular condition however serious or benign. For example, jaw pain is much more likely to be an indication of temporomandibular joint syndrome or a dental problem than it is for heart attack,” he says. “For peace of mind, the point is to associate any unusual symptoms with their more common causes. And by all means, seek the help of your health care practitioner for more persistent and personally disturbing symptoms.”
(Content By Bryce Edmonds For Msn)