The Disease Column

Today, I watched Mystery Diagnosis in discovery health. Each episode presents two situations in which patients have caught rare and strange diseases. I was fascinated by it, and I am writing about the diseases from now on everytime I watch it. So, here are the two diseases: (note, not an expert, so if I am wrong on a detail, sorry ^_^)

Polyarthritis Nodosa (AKA periarteritis nodosa, kussmaul-meier disease)

Cause: Autoimmune attacks on the body causes artheries to swell. What sets off the immune system is unknown.

Symptom: Pains and aches in muscles, joints, abdomen. Fever caused by the swelling of blood vessel. Rashes and swelling of body parts. Loss of sight due to infarction of blood vessels in the retina (the poor guy had it in the beggining, not at the end, which is more common), damaged organs. Left untreated, 85% of people die.

Treatments: Suppress immune system through chemicals in IV drips.

Opinion: This one is quick and lethal! It is not as bizarre as the other diseases shown in the program, but because of its lethality, it is scary. Early diagnosis is important, from what I learned, and having to lose your eyes really quickly must be unpleasant. Good thing it is quiet rare, like most diseases in the program.

Porphyria (based on the Greek word of purple, porphura)(classes: hepatic and erythropoieic)

Causes: Very rare hereditary disease, gene causes overproduction of precursor molecule porphyrin, which creates the heme for blood. The accumulation of porphyrin is toxic. In women, attacks follow at certain points in menstrual cycle, so it occurs on puberty. Certain drugs, chemicals, and food can trigger the episodes.

Symptoms: Episodes of extreme pains in the torso, feels like hot knives jabbing. Fast heartbeat. Purple urine with strange consistency. Seizures. Unvoluntary movement when sleeping. Extremely hard to diagnose.

Treatment: Untreatable because it is genetic. Eating a lot of carbs take the porphyrin production under control. Plus, some drugs are used. Symptoms are only minimized.

Opinion: This one sucks big time. It is not lethal, but extremely debilitating. Episodes of the extreme pain happens when one least expects it and it basically gets you bedridden. It is extremely hard to diagnose, and it can be years before a doctor figures it out. Seriously, the woman in the episode was like this for three freaking decades! I couldn’t live like that, life would be so meaningless. Fortunately, eating lots of carbs solves some major problem. (if you ever get diagnosed, that is)


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