Five bizarre medical conditions you could have without knowing

Identifying underlying health conditions can be a challenging task, especially when the physical symptoms of a disease are nonexistent. In fact, more than a third of the world’s population (amounting to over two billion people) has more than five ailments, as reported in the Global Burden of Disease Study published in The Lancet.

Most health conditions such as conjunctivitis, pneumonia and malaria are easy to diagnose due to the clear physical manifestation of the symptoms, but there are diseases that often go undiagnosed and unnoticed for years.


Synesthesia is a neurological condition where the senses blend together, causing the individual to have an unusual sensory perception. These individuals can often see different colours when they listen to music or think of numbers. This condition is congenital and hereditary in nature, and each person’s experience with the disorder is different.

The causes of synesthesia are not clear, but it is far more prevalent in people who have autism spectrum disorder. The perceptions that occur are often involuntary and automatic, making it difficult for people with synesthesia to explain their experiences to others. This is one of the biggest barriers when it comes to diagnosing synesthesia.

While synesthesia does not cause any physical harm to the individual’s body, it can impact their daily lives, by overwhelming them or causing them to be unable to focus on simple tasks.

There is no cure for synesthesia, but treatment options are available to help manage the condition. Consulting a therapist can be helpful in managing emotions related to the experiences. Additionally, cognitive-behavioural therapy can help individuals learn coping strategies to manage their sensory experiences.

Alice in wonderland syndrome 

Alice in wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a rare neurological condition that causes the affected individual to have a distorted perception and see objects as much smaller or larger than they are in real life. The condition is named after Alice, a character in Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who experiences unusual adventures and has a distorted perception of reality. AIWS often causes migraines, disorientation, and confusion and may cause seizures in severe cases.

While the exact causes of AIWS are unclear, it is most often caused by changes in the part of the brain that processes sensory information. It can also be caused by epilepsy, mononucleosis, or as a side effect of certain anxiety and depression medications. It is not a life-threatening condition, and therapy can be useful in learning how to manage its symptoms.

Many people with AIWS may attribute their perception changes to fatigue or stress, which means it can go undiagnosed for years.


Hyperhidrosis is a rare skin condition that affects only 1 per cent of the world’s population. This condition causes excessive sweating, often concentrated in one area of the body, such as the limbs or underarms. Individuals affected may sweat excessively even when they are in a relaxed state.

This disorder often interferes with the daily life of an individual and causes emotional distress, anxiety, or frustration. People with hyperhidrosis may experience sweating that is so severe that it soaks their clothes and even makes it difficult to grip objects. This condition can also lead to other diseases, such as skin infections, due to the constant moisture the skin is exposed to.

Treatments for hyperhidrosis include using antiperspirants, medication, and, in severe cases, surgery to remove the overactive sweat glands.

Situs inversus

Situs inversus is a rare genetic disorder in which the major organs of the body are located in a mirror image of their normal positions, such as the heart being on the right side of the chest instead of the left.

There are usually no physical symptoms of situs inversus, and it often goes undetected for years until the individual has a CT or MRI scan. Even though this condition is not life-threatening on its own, affected individuals are more likely to develop auxiliary problems due to the abnormal position of the organs.

It is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner; that is, a person must inherit two copies of the same abnormal gene, one from each parent, thus making this an extremely rare disorder.


Aphantasia is a rare condition in which the affected individual is unable to visualise objects, people’s faces or places in their mind. The person has no problem with memory or perception, but they lack the ability to generate visual imagery and patterns in their minds.

There are no physical symptoms of aphantasia, and many people with the condition may not even realise that they are different from others. It often affects people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and may disturb daily life by hindering creative tasks such as writing, drawing, and navigating new locations. It may also be caused by damage or injury to the brain.

Were you aware of these uncommon medical conditions? Have you ever wondered if you have a medical condition that hasn’t been diagnosed? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Why your fingers may be numb

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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