10 Mysterious Illnesses

Have You Had One?

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    Verna Gallagher, who claims to be suffering from a rare infliction called, Morgellons, points to a sore on her skin. Gallagher believes her condition was caused by bugs under her skin. This mysterious illness displays almost sci-fi symptoms: Sufferers complain of intensely creepy-crawly skin and odd fibrous strands, which protrude from open wounds. Some medical experts blame the "disease" on psychotic delusions, but others say the symptoms are very real.

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    Burning mouth syndrome causes chronic burning pain in your mouth. The pain from burning mouth syndrome may affect your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth, or widespread areas of your whole mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. The pain can be severe, as if you scalded your mouth. Unfortunately, the cause of this condition can't be determined, but treatment options are available, according to information provided at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/burning-mouth-syndrome/DS00462.

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    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative brain disorder related to mad cow disease. Symptoms usually start around age 60. Memory problems, behavior changes, vision problems and poor muscle coordination progress quickly to dementia, coma and death. Most patients die within a year, the National Institutes of Health reported on its Web site. There is no known way to prevent CJD and there is no effective treatment either.

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    Foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare neurological disorder in which a person starts speaking with a different accent. It occurs after a severe brain injury or stroke. Only a few dozen cases have been reported worldwide, with the most recent one in Canada.

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    Pica is a pattern of eating non-food materials such as dirt or paper, according to the NIH. Some individuals with pica eat their own hair. In some cases, a lack of certain nutrients may trigger the unusual cravings. However, health experts have found no real cause or cure for the disorder.

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    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 12 million Americans. Patients suffering from RLS are plagued by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when resting in an effort to relieve the discomfort. These unpleasant sensations are often described by sufferers as a burning, creeping, tugging, or insect-like crawling inside the legs that range in severity from irritating to extremely painful. The strangest thing about this condition is that lying down or relaxing actually activates symptoms, and it is often misdiagnosed because many doctors attribute symptoms to nervousness, insomnia, stress, arthritis, muscle cramps or aging.

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    Sneezing, sniffling, sore throat and coughing. A cold is probably the most common illness. In fact, in the U.S., people suffer an estimated 1 billion colds every year. Here's the kicker... there are plenty of remedies, but no cure.

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    Persistent genital arousal disorder affects women of all ages. It isn't known how many women are affected, because many women are embarrassed to speak with their doctors. Dr. Sandra Leiblum, former director of the Center for Sexual and Relationship Health at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and author of "Principles and Practices of Sexual Therapy," defines PGAD as an "intense feelings of genital congestion and sensations that are typically unaccompanied by any conscious awareness of sexual desire." She said the sensations can last for hours or even days and they are truly unwanted and intrusive.

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    Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders. Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. The disease is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. The cause of this disorder has stumped medical experts. Older parents appear to be more likely to have autistic children. The disorder has been blamed on mercury in vaccines and gluten, a wheat derivative found in many foods, but research has failed to establish a connection between either and autism.

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    It's been 25 years since AIDS was first identified and there is still no cure. It remains among the world's top killers, especially in developing countries with an estimated 39.5 million people infected worldwide. For now, the best hope for stopping the spread of HIV lies in prevention, treatment and education.