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25 Of The Strangest Disease Names That Would Perplex Even Medical Doctors

By Edited Apr 29, 2015 1 2


Names of Clinical Disease and Disorders

Have you ever been told the name of something that basically made you clueless as to its meaning? This is normal. What if it turned out to be a disease name ? Your response might be "That's a disease ?"

As a layman, you may still have some flashes in your mind about the meaning if you hadn’t been exposed to the name before, especially if you did not even know it was a disease. There is some point in time before at which you heard of something like 'hypertension', as plain as the meaning is to you now. Nobody knows if you thought at that time that it had to do with some extremely angry guy on the loose! 

The purpose here is not to go into specifics of a condition but to illustrate that there is actually a disease by that name.  So, let’s see those flashes people might have(albeit on a lighter side) when hearing these :

1)      Amaurotic Familial Idiocy

Is this about some erotic tendencies that run in the family ?

Amaurotic Familial Idiocy
                                      And you are called an idiot for that ?

Actually, without going into details it’s just an old term for TSD or  Tay-Sachs disease which is a neurodegenerative disorder.     


2)      Buck Teeth

Let me guess! This one probably had teeth looking like a reindeer. 

Buck teeth

Well, it means the person has abnormally protruding upper set of teeth.

3)      Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

If you have never gone anywhere else to eat except at Chinese restaurants, does that mean there is something wrong with you ?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome - MSG related

 No, it talks about an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate(MSG). Maybe our flashes weren’t too far off on this one. Check your sensitivity to MSG though usually the effects are temporary.

4)       Café au Lait Spots

Getting spots on your body  from drinking coffee ? Some coffee that must be …

It’s only about some congenital birthmarks that have a colour that is similar to coffee with milk

5)       Calculus

Well, fine! I know my math is not very good but why is that a disease ?

Calculus Confusion

Calm down! If someone has dental or urinary tract calculus, they are talking about either plaque or stones associated with it.

6)       Crush Syndrome

Now, has this got to do with some mentally unsound guy that goes around falling for every pretty girl he sees or vice versa ?

No, this is what happens to kidneys damaged from violent episodes like accidents or collapsed structures.

7)       Ewing’s Sarcoma

Again, I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with family disease among the owners of that Dallas, Texas oil company. Not that JR Ewing has ever mentioned.

It’s bone connective tissue cancer.

8)       Fragile X Syndrome

 Now, I'm getting hold of myself. This can't be about a fragile guy with a serious  pornographic addiction.  

It’s really about inherited mental retardation due to X-chromosome abnormality

9)       Friedrich Ataxia

Tell me this is not like the government sending Friedrich a virus to get infected because he avoided paying taxes

Right on!  More like a degenerative genetic disease to do with muscle coordination.

10)   Horseshoe Kidney

Urrghh! Sounds ugly. Like some guy who went horse-riding but annoyed the horse and then got thrown off and stomped on his lower back till his kidneys were deformed.


Close but the horse is not at fault, though. It’s a congenital malformation of the kidneys giving them some kind of U-shape connection.

11)   Mammalgia

I had a friend once who refused to admit he was a mammal . I should have known he was suffering from this disease.


You can let him off on that. It only denotes some sort of pain in the upper female parts.

12)   Mosaicism

Wait, is this what I got after watching the movie Inception since I felt so strange ?


What are the symptoms ? Do you feel like a bunch of tiles ?

That must be the popcorn. Here, it’s related to problems arising from cells having different genetic makeup. 



13)   Pigeon Toes

What about the wings and the beak ?  Are they going to grow as well ?

Pigeon Toes

Not really, it seems it’s an inward rotation of the foot/leg that occurs at a very early age. If you would like a less obtrusive word, take ‘Intoeing’.

14)   Polydactyly


Alright, this is not dinosaur disease despite the resemblance to the Pterodactyl, or is it ?

Not quite, it’s the occurrence of an extra finger or toe.



15)   Punchdrunk

Maybe it’s about a guy who gets into a brawl in the bar after failing to remain sober and then ends up getting sick.

It does have to do with the patient being disoriented and having uncoordinated movement and/or speech. Incidentally, it is more common among boxers.

16)   Q Fever

 Sounds like a fancy type of fever to get, like Saturday Night Fever ? Does it actually make you feel good ?

Nothing fancy about this bacterial disease that is transmitted to humans from animals.

17)   Quinsy

I think you got that mixed up. Is that the name of the disease or the doctor…Quincy Jones ?

It’s the disease, causing infection behind the tonsils.      

18)  Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS)

Does it give that perennial itch that you constantly feel like kicking someone?

It is actually about some very uncomfortable sensations in leg muscles

19)   Rabbit Fever

 So you will grow long pointed ears and start wobbling around ? Oh, dear!

Rabbit Fever

None of those, but it's another bacterial infection transmitted to humans from animals. So, those working alongside animals may be more at risk.





20)   Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

This could be what you get if you mess around with some mountain leopards while hiking. Don’t go off-trail.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Though nothing to do with the highlands, this is an acute bacterial disease transmitted by ticks but you won't look anything like the picture above.

21)   Subclavian Steal Syndrome

If you get used to taking people’s stuff  without their permission, you could be condemned with this.

Quite apart from that, these are symptoms related to constriction of the arteries

22)   Webbing

Does this afflict those who surf the Internet too long or those who have too many websites?


Now that I come to think of it, does it make you look like a duck ?

It's surprisingly close to the duck theory but Internet usage is not the problem though. It's a congenital condition, i.e. one present at birth, that creates flaps of skin between fingers or toes.

23)   Witches’ Milk

You thought you would be safe since you don’t find those at the stores. Is it 2% milk or full cream ?


Hmm...it's temporary discharge from an infant's nipple as a response to maternal hormones.

24)   Xeroderma Pigmentosum

Sounds like something Harry Potter would say while waving his wand to turn his enemy into a pig.


This happens to be a rare genetic disorder that affects skin health, like pigmentation changes, premature skin ageing and possibly skin tumours.

25)   Zoonosis

Is it someone whose been having an identity crisis whether he or she is from the animal or plant group ?

Wrong again! It's disease transmitted from animals to humans except this time it may be from other than bacteria as well, like parasites, fungi and virus. 


Medical Diseases and Conditions

Well, there you go, you may also have heard of some weird  habits and medical conditions, but you can't beat the above absolutely insane list of diseases/conditions . 

On the other hand, you may wonder had you become a doctor, whether you might find yourself remembering these diseases more easily than something like Retrolental Fibroplasia or Craniosynostosis …whatever those are! Maybe there is some sense in giving crazy names to disease. Good luck and stay healthy!


Bibliography :

[1]   The Cornell Ilustrated Encylopedia Of Health [2002]

        Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., MD, DPhil  (General Editor)

       From :  Weill Medical College of Cornell University and

                       Physicians of New York-Presbyterian Hospital





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Mar 13, 2014 9:56am
Some of these names are indeed very strange!
Mar 13, 2014 5:16pm
True! Hope they were amusing too!
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  1. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., MD, DPhil (General Editor) - Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Physicians of New York-Presbyterian Hospital "25 Of The Strangest Disease Names That Would Perplex Even Medical Doctors ." The Cornell Ilustrated Encylopedia Of Health. 2002.

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