You Could Have One Of These Strange Medical Conditions And Not Even Know It

A 16th century doodle of a male torse by Andreas Vesalius 1514-1564. Wellcome Collection CC BY 4.0

Our bodies are pretty good at flagging up if something’s not quite right. If you’ve eaten something off, you’ll no doubt soon find out. Step on a lego brick, your body will promptly alert you. Likewise, if you have a medical condition, then your body will often display a flurry of signs and symptoms.

However, there’s a fair few fascinating, relatively harmless, and surprisingly common medical conditions that can fall under the radar. As you'll see, many people with these biological quirks often view them as a blessing rather than a curse. 

Switcheroo Organs 

Approximately 1 in 10,000 people have their internal organs mirrored on the “wrong” side of their body, a congenital condition called Situs inversus. Their heart is on the right of their chest and their liver is on the left.

Despite this unusual mix-around, most people show no medical symptoms. In some cases, people are totally unaware of their condition (although you would think the heartbeat would give it away). Equally, many organs come in bilateral pairs – lungs, kidneys, eyes, etc, while others are central and singular, so you won't notice any change. Donny Osmond only became aware of his Situs inversus after suffering from appendicitis and doctors treating him realized the organ was not where they expected it to be. Enrique Iglesias and Catherine O’Hara also reportedly have Situs inversus.

Back in 2009, 53-year-old Jack Eigel became the first person with Situs inversus to undergo a heart transplant. He once joked: "You know, when I was little, I tried to pledge allegiance the wrong way and got a few teachers mad at me."

Tasting Words

Smelling musical riffs, tasting words on a map, feeling a sense of color when someone yawns. This might sound extraordinary, but it is perfectly ordinary to a surprising number of people – this is just how the world is perceived by them.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition where the senses entangle and one stimulation of a sense involuntarily sparks the stimulation of another. For example, people with synesthesia commonly often associate certain words or numbers with a particular color. A recent study argued that up to 20 percent of the population could experience some degree of synesthesia, however, a more conservative estimated is 2 to 4 percent.

As you can imagine, synesthesia can open the doors of perception to some incredible things. Many renowned musical and visual artists claim (although very few have had it verified) to have synesthesia and say it helps with the artistic process, including Pharrell Williams, Billy Joel, Kanye West, Hans Zimmer, and David Hockney, 

3D image of cones in the retina - these cells are responsible for color vision. Chris Guerin. CC BY-NC

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