Ever since the onset of human civilization, new diseases have been surging up time and again. Measles endemic in ancient China, then the Smallpox outbreak in India in the early 1500s, the plague in the middle ages… entire societies have been crippled by diseases. But these days, with all the advances in health and technology, the modern marvels in medicine has succeeded in curbing some lethal diseases, to a point that is. There still are diseases whose cure remains elusive despite all the efforts from medical communities. Here is a list of top 10 dangerous diseases that cannot be cured.
10. Asthma disease
In this chronic disorder of lungs, the airways get heavily inflamed and constricted. This causes periodic breathlessness, coughs and chest pains, the consequences ranging from mild to life threatening. Asthmatic people have incredibly sensitive airways which makes them more susceptible to allergies. When the conditions are worse than usual, patients become more prone to asthmatic attacks or episodes. More often then not, these attacks can lead to absolute severity. The first of the attacks can occur at any age, however about half of the cases are found in children younger than 10 years, with the number inclined slightly more towards boys than that of girls.
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease. Even though a well managed treatment can help asthmatic people lead a normal life, a precise cure to end it is yet to be discovered.
9. Polio Disease
Not so long ago, there was not a place spared from the terrible consequences of polio epidemic. Even though most of the world stands polio free as of right now, the disease has been causing paralysis and death to a substantial number of people throughout human history. At the peak of its epidemic around the 1940s and 1950s, over half a million people either died or were paralyzed by polio each year. Amid such frenzied situations, the polio vaccine was developed that made the vaccinated children immune to the virus. And to this day, there is no cure to polio. Once someone gets infected by the polio virus, they cannot be acutely cured. Polio can only be prevented by using the polio vaccine, given multiple times to children to protect them for life.
With the recent outbreak of Polio strain in Syria with WPV1 strain, the most dangerous type of polio virus that cripples the children it infects, the rest of world, especially the European countries are on alert to curb any possible affects of the virus there. Until the last strain of polio virus is eradicated or a fail safe cure is found, the fight against polio will keep on stretching to the coming years.
8. Ebola Disease
It is caused by deadly Ebola virus named after the Ebola river of Northern Congo where it was first seen in 1976. There was a massive outbreak that year in the then Zaire and Sudan causing hundreds of deaths. The outbreaks first started in the primates like Gorilla, Chimpanzee and then in the humans. A similar outbreak few years later again in Zaire in 1995 also added to the dead count. The virus is known to cause the fatal Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, also known as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). It results in extreme fever, rash, and excessive hemorrhaging in the body of diseased person. According to WHO, of about 1850 known cases of Ebola so far, more than 1200 deaths have occurred, making Ebola a very deadly pathogen.
So far there has not been any major Ebola outbreak elsewhere in the world, which is indeed fortunate since a cure to the disease is yet to be found. The patients with Ebola can only be given supportive treatment. But an acute treatment to cure them does not exist.
7. Diabetes Disease
A few decades back, Diabetes was thought of a rich man’s disease, the number of people with diabetes constricted to the upper echelon of society. But now, things could not have been any more different. Diabetes has emerged into a global epidemic with an estimated 4 million deaths each year accounted to it. Even more alarming is the projection that total deaths caused by diabetes is most likely to increase two folds in the next 10 years. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetes which is caused by lack of insulin production and is extensively seen in children and Type 2 diabetes which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes adds up for 90% of all diabetes cases and even though the reports of this diabetes in children were previously rare, the number have significantly increased as of right now.
The biggest problem with diabetes is that is can remain unseen for years, and by the time it is diagnosed, more often then not the disease would have reached life threatening stage. It can lead to severe health complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve disease and amputations.
6. Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease
Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) is an incredibly rare and fatal brain disorder and is more like Mad Cow Disease in humans. It is so rare that only one person in a million suffers from it around a year. But that does not make this disorder any less dangerous. The onset of the major symptoms occur after 60 years of age, and more than 90% of times, the patients survive only a year after the first symptoms. It all starts with failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination and visual disturbances. But as the conditions start to worsen, mental deterioration, involuntary movements, hallucinations, blindness and weakness of extremities become more pronounced and this all may lead to coma. This disease usually appears in the later life and but its severity grows with extreme rapidness.
CJD is thought to be caused by a protien called a prion. A known cure to the disease is still far from our grasp. Modern medical techniques do help slow down the disease but the final consequences can only be prolonged.
5. Fatal Familial Insomnia Disease
This disease is so rare that it has been discovered only in 40 families worldwide. And that might as well be about the only positive aspect (and a fortunate one) about this disease. It typically starts showing up around the age of 50 years and death comes usually after 7 to 36 months of the onset of symptoms. Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI) is transmitted by genetic mutation, making it’s transmission from parent to child a 50-50 chance. But everything else about it is wildly unpredictable. The most baffling and horrorful aspect of FFI is the complete inability of the suffering person to sleep. While the patients suffer from unbelievable highs in pulse and blood pressure, excessive sweating and an eventual loss of coordination and other gross motor skills (including speech), the thinking portions remain intact, even as the rest of the body deteriorates. The patients understand that they will die, can talk and write freely till their coordination lasts and understand their fate up until their ultimate death.
At a time when neurologists around the world are yet to grasp the complete mechanism of this disease, any cure to this disorder is still a big far cry.
4. Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Disease
It is an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue which causes the damaged soft tissues to regrow as bones. This results into complete ossification of damaged tendons, ligaments and muscles; meaning all the damaged connective tissues gets regrown into bones, slowly imprisoning the sufferers into their own skeletons. For this reason, this abnormality is sometimes also referred as Stone Man Syndrome. Children born with Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) have deformed big toes, possibly missing a joint or simply presenting with a notable lump at the minor joint. The gene that causes ossification is normally deactivated once the fetus’ bones are completely formed in the womb, but in patients with FOP, the gene keeps on working.
As of right now, there is no known cure to FOP. Even any attempt to surgically remove the regrown bones results in more robust bone growth, further worsening the conditions.
3. Progeria Disease
It is a very rare genetic disorder in children that leads to premature aging. Even though a baby with this genetic mutation is born normal and healthy, the symptoms start emerging once the child reaches the age of 18-24 months. Children with progeria have bodies similar to that of adults, with wrinkled skin and poor eyesight, and an extremely low number of patients survive for more than 13 years. The disease affects a single child in every 8 million children and it takes its name from two words, Pro meaning “before” or “premature” and Geras meaning “Old age”. Once progeria starts showing up, the child develops signs of prominent eyes, scalp veins, protruding ears, beaky nose, large head with hair loss and other devastating physical abnormalities.
So far, no treatments are known to have any effect against progeria. All the potential drugs developed so far are still in clinical stage.
2. HIV/AIDS Disease
Due to it’s severity and rapid increase in the number of infected population, HIV/AIDS has been much talked about ever since it first emerged in the early 1980s. Since its inception, almost 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of AIDS. By the end of 2011, a total of 34 million people were living with HIV infection in the world, of which 1.7 million people died that year. The fact that it can be easily transmitted by sexual contact, blood and even breast milk makes it a very lethal disease, with the number of affected people on the rise every year. HIV infection deals a heavy deterioration to the immune system, making the body more susceptible to normal infections and diseases. AIDS or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the most advanced stages of HIV infection, characterized by the occurrence of more than 20 opportunistic infections and related cancer.
Countries throughout the world run several campaigns informing people on how to prevent HIV infection. But as of now, AIDS can only be prevented, a known cure that totally eradicates the infecting virus from a person is yet to be developed.
1. Cancer Disease
The very fact that more people die of cancer each year than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined tells everything about how dangerous it is. In 2008 alone, there were 7.6 million deaths globally because of cancer, accounting for 13% of the total deaths that year. To worsen the matter, the World Health Organization projects that without immediate action, the global number of deaths from cancer will increase by nearly 80% by 2030, with most occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. Overall, there are more than 100 different types of cancer. Five of the most lethal cancer that kill men are lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and oesophagus cancer. Similarly, breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical cancer account for most deaths in women.
Of all the causes of cancer, use of tobacco is easily the most preventable and it results in 22% of all cancer deaths. If diagnosed in time, some of the cancer can be cured with extensive therapies, but a fail-proof cure to cancer still remains elusive.
With every new era in the human history, we have seen new developments, new technologies and new lifestyles. But along with them, we have also recorded the emergence of new devastating infections and dangerous diseases. Infectious diseases emerging throughout history have included some of the most feared plagues of the past. New infections continue to emerge today, while many of the old plagues are with us still. These disease cause an unbelievably big portion of all the deaths that occur in a year. No matter how advanced the modern technologies are and how capable the medical society becomes, as long as there are incurable diseases that keep on crippling entire populations, the task remains to be done.
Pawan is a budding programmer who loves to write about anything he finds interesting. He is a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and loves reading spy novels in his leisure time.