Unsolved Medical Mysteries That Stump Doctors to This Day

Doctors spend years and a ridiculous amount of money to acquire the detailed knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry, and other science they need to do their jobs. At the end of their training, they will have the tools they need to tell people what’s ailing them and how to cure it. While that’s true in most cases, sometimes doctors encounter a patient with such a bizarre condition that even the most skilled of them have no idea what to do. Here’s a collection of medical mysteries that have gone unsolved to this day. 


WATER ALLERGY: Water makes up most of the human body — around 60%. With water being such an integral part of your basic biological structure, you’d imagine it’s impossible to be allergic to it, but some unfortunate people suffer from aquagenic urticaria, or water allergy. They can drink water, but that’s about all they can do with it. If these people are exposed to water, their skin will erupt in itchy and sometimes painful red blisters. That means you can’t swim, be out in the rain, or really even wash yourself. Even sweating can trigger the symptoms in the worst cases. Water allergy is extremely rare, with only a handful of known cases, and doctors can’t agree on what causes it. 


STIFF PERSON SYNDROME: SPS is a medical condition that can leave a person a prisoner inside their own body. It causes involuntary, extreme muscle spasms and rigidity in the limbs. That means your muscles start cramping up and stiffening on their own, leaving SPS patients unable to control their own limbs. They can end up completely paralyzed for hours or even days on end, all the while being fully conscious and in agonizing pain. Doctors don’t have a full understanding of what causes SPS, but they’re getting closer to figuring it out. They think it might have something to do with your immune system going into maximum overdrive and starting to attack your brain and spinal cord. 


MORGELLONS DISEASE: Imagine constantly feeling that something is crawling under your skin. Combine that with itchy skin sores that have strange, fibrous things growing out of them, and you have something that belongs in a horror movie. That’s everyday life for people suffering from Morgellons disease. Modern medical science doesn’t understand what the stuff growing out from under their skin is and why sufferers feel the constant itching. Some doctors believe that a certain bacterium is behind the disease, while others think the disease doesn’t exist and people who have it actually have delusional parasitosis — a psychological condition where the person believes they’re infected by a parasite. Of course, they still can't explain the skin sores.


FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME: This might just be one of the weirdest conditions on this list. When people develop foreign accent syndrome (FAS), they suddenly start speaking in a weird accent — even if they’ve never heard it before. What causes FAS is a mystery. Doctors thought it was a psychological disorder, but now the consensus has since shifted to treating it as a neurological condition. FAS has been triggered by everything from traumatic brain injury and stroke to multiple sclerosis. Doctors do, however, have an idea of why FAS sufferers pick up accents they’ve never heard. They don’t actually speak in an “accent” — their speech just gets garbled in a way that sounds foreign to the listener.