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Nine illnesses that sound made up… but really do exist


Most people have found themselves feeling sick and making the dreaded call into work to face the inevitable grilling about their current state of wellbeing.

Whether it’s a bout of ‘man flu‘ or your’re ‘milking’ that under-the-weather blues, most bosses will believe you.

But for a rare few sufferers, their health conditions may not be so easily understood.

Many of the conditions are even named after fictional movies and books. Some are also named after mythical creatures and folklore. 

1. Retrograde Ejaculation

Some people have a rare condition that makes semen go into the bladder rather than out of the urethra

Some people have a rare condition that makes semen go into the bladder rather than out of the urethra

This rare condition is when semen travels backwards into the bladder instead of through the urethra when a man ejaculates.

Usually, semen is pushed out of the urethra and is prevented from entering the bladder by the muscles around the neck of the bladder, which close tightly at the moment of orgasm.

However, damage to the surrounding muscles or nerves can stop the bladder neck closing, causing the semen to move into the bladder rather than up through the urethra.

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, told Mail Online: ‘Men with the condition may produce no semen, or only a small amount, during ejaculation and can produce cloudy urine because of the semen in it, when they first go to the toilet after having sex.

‘They still experience the feeling of an orgasm and the condition does not pose a danger to health. However, it can affect the ability to father a child.

‘Prostate gland surgery, bladder surgery, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and a class of medicines known as alpha blockers which are often used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) can all be causes of retrograde ejaculation.’

2. First Bite Syndrome

First Bite Syndrome causes intense cramping after the first bite of eating something. The pain lessens with each bite

First Bite Syndrome causes intense cramping after the first bite of eating something. The pain lessens with each bite

This painful condition causes the sufferer severe discomfort when they salivate or after they have taken the first bite of a meal – – hence First Bite Syndrome.

The intense pain is in the preauricular region, located near the front of the ear and marks the entrance to a sinus tract under the skin and near the ear cartridge.

Although the pain lessens with each bite, it will return if there is a break in eating.

While in most cases it is associated with people who have had upper neck surgery, sometimes it is due to a tumour of the parotid salivary gland or parapharyngeal space, which is in the upper neck and above the hyoid bone.

Usually, the pain occurs on the side of the face and it is described as a spasm or cramping sensation.

Experts believe first bite syndrome is the result of nerve damage.

While the nerve damage may be the result of a head and neck tumour on surgery, on very rare occasions, people may suffer idiopathic first bite syndrome.

An idiopathic condition relates to a disease of condition which arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown.

3. Hypertrichosis, or Ambras Syndrome (AKA Werewolf syndrome)

Some people have a condition that causes excessive hair growth, similar to mythical werewolfs

Some people have a condition that causes excessive hair growth, similar to mythical werewolfs

People who have this rare skin disease have excessive hair growth all over the body, except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

This includes fine hair on the face and ears, making people look like a mythical werewolf.

It can also make someone have a triangular face, bulbous nose and also lack teeth.

4. Prosopagnosia (facial blindness)

Those with a severe form of Prosopagnosia may be unable to distinguish between a face a

Those with a severe form of Prosopagnosia may be unable to distinguish between a face a

Many people may forget names but ‘never forget a face’. But people with this condition will struggle to identify even familiar faces or tell people apart.

Those with a severe form may be unable to distinguish between a face and another object or even recognise themselves.

5. Junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB)

Any trauma or friction to the skin can cause painful blisters for sufferers of Junctional epidermolysis bullosa

Any trauma or friction to the skin can cause painful blisters for sufferers of Junctional epidermolysis bullosa

This is a rare condition and the most serious form of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), which is a group of rare diseases that cause the skin to be fragile and blister easily.

It is a genetic skin disorder, not an infection, not contagious and it is not due to an allergy.

Any trauma or friction to the skin can cause painful blisters.

Mr Kanani added: ‘Severe JEB is one of the most severe types of EB, but it’s extremely rare.

‘It causes widespread blistering of the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs.

‘Areas affected included the genitals and buttocks, around the nose and mouth, the fingertips, the toes, the neck, inside the mouth and throat and the eyes.

‘JEB may cause complications such as anaemia, tooth decay, malnutrition and delayed growth, dehydration, breathing difficulties and sepsis.

‘There’s currently no cure for EB, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications developing, such as infection.’

6. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, also suffered from migranes

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, also suffered from migranes

This syndrome occurrs because of severe migranes and epilepsy.

People have a distorted vision or perceptions that make it seem like parts of their body are much bigger or smaller than they really are in reality.

The condition was first recognised in the 1955 Canadian Medical Association Journal.

According to the article, the name was chosen because Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, suffered from migranes.

Also, the syndrome can be caused by viral infection or drug use.

7. Alien Hand Syndrome

Peter Sellers as Dr Strangelove in the 1964 movie: 'Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'

Peter Sellers as Dr Strangelove in the 1964 movie: ‘Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’

This is a condition characterised by involuntary movements of a limb, usually the hand, that seem purposeful or functional.

People with this disorder may also feel that the limb is not part of the body.

According to research in Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements: ‘Sometimes the limb is personified: patients have named their alien hands.’

Common causes for the syndrome include strokes, brain tumours and neurodegenerative illness.

The syndrome was seen in the movie Dr Strangelove and there have been reports of people hitting or choking themselves involuntarily.

8. Walking Corpse Syndrome (Cotard Syndrome)

The condition is often seen in patients with depression and folklore may contribute to the disorder

The condition is often seen in patients with depression and folklore may contribute to the disorder

This disorder was first described in the 1880s by neurologist Jules Cotard.

It is characterised as a person believing they are dead or soulless.

Sometimes they may even think that parts of their body are missing such as organs or blood.

It’s often seen in patients with depression and cultural beliefs, such as folklore about creatures taking organs, may contribute to the disorder.

9. Truman Show Delusion

The Truman Show is about a man whose entire life is a TV show. Many people with the delusion believe everybody in their lives are actors

The Truman Show is about a man whose entire life is a TV show. Many people with the delusion believe everybody in their lives are actors

Everyone who watched the movie The Truman Show, starring Jim Carey, must have checked for a hidden camera at least once.

But, it is a recognised condition in which people believe they are under constant surveillance.

The Truman Show is about a man whose entire life is a TV show, his family, friends and neighbours are all actors and his entire life is a macabre act.

According to a psychiatrist who treated patients with the delusion, the condition existed long before the movie came out.

Speaking to Business Insider, Joel Gold, a psychiatrist at the New York University School of Medicine, said: ‘I’ve treated a number of young men who all believe their lives were reality television shows.

‘They said to me, ‘Do you know that movie The Truman Show? That’s my life’.’

However, the psychiatrist said the film didn’t give rise to a new type of delusion but rather throughout history some people have felt controlled by whatever the technology of the day happened to be.

People thought magnetic rays and microwaves were controlling them.

In the years after The Truman Show, it was closed-circuit TV and cameras.



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