It’s that time of year when Halloween is upon us, which includes vampires, witches, skeletons and everything scary. Scary movies are on television every day and no matter where you turn every store has Halloween decorations, costumes and candy. You know it is so hard to escape candy corn, pumpkins and caramel apples. But don’t count out medicine and Halloween. Medicine and Halloween I bet most would say there is not a link to bring them together but they are wrong. Subjects that we would consider unbelievable or mystical like ghosts actually have modern medical analogues and have, in a way, become a reality.
Vampires and how they tie with porphyria. With acute porphyria it can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. There is severe photo-sensitivity displayed by sufferers actually causes their skin to blister and burn in minutes when exposed to natural light. So many sufferers prefer to be active during darkness. Some sufferers develop excess hair on their foreheads and backs of their hands. Most vampires are described as being unusually hairy. Also their teeth can become red due to haem deposits in the enamel giving them a blood stained appearance – as thought blood has been ingested. Some other symptoms include sensitivity to garlic as the garlic makes the symptoms way worse and that they can become anemic and therefore they are in need of iron or blood. So if you get porphyria people could mistake you for a vampire. Just be sure to never tell anyone, “I want to suck your blood!” they might get creeped out.
Werewolves and how they tie with hypertrichosis. Hypertrichosis is sometimes informally called ‘Werewolf Syndrome’ as it can lead to an abnormal amount of hair growth over the body and face in its generalized form. It is mainly congenital but certain forms can be acquired later in life due to eating disorders and certain medication. The condition can also include gingival hyperplasia which is an increase in gum tissue that makes the mouth look more pronounced and as though the teeth are sharp and jagged. It is very rare, however, and less than 100 cases have ever been recorded. Cruelly, many people suffering Hypertrichosis throughout history have been ’employed’ at freak shows, labelled as half-wolf/half-human hybrids. Now if you see a half wolf, half human howling at the moon you know to get out the way because it could be a werewolf or just someone with hypertrichosis.
As for Halloween and the medical marvels I hope this clears some of them up, it is really interesting how medicine can tie to some of the Halloween so called ‘monsters’. Sometimes there are explanations for everything, I won’t say vampires nor werewolves don’t exist but I can say now maybe just maybe it is because of a medical issue and not just a vampire or a werewolf out to get me.
Happy Halloween everyone and be safe.