Ten Serious Medical Problems With Cutesy Names

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

When naming serious diseases, or medical conditions, people try to give them a sense of gravitas. Even neutral names acquire a serious ring to them. But every now and again, otherwise sober medical professionals get cute. Here are a list of serious medical conditions that have freakishly silly names.

10. Dropsy

This sounds like the name of one of Peter Rabbit's sisters. There is simply no reaction to hearing that someone has 'dropsy' without picturing them painted in watercolor and frolicking with Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. Actually, it's a accumulation of fluid beneath the skin, which doesn't sound bad until you look at your hand or foot and think of it as looking like a bunch of ziplock bags filled to bursting with pudding. People with dropsey mark easily, which means that if someone were to press their finger into one of the swollen areas (for god knows what reason), the indentation would take a long time go away. Basically, you're a human bag of wet cement.


9. Maple Syrup Urine Disease

When the body can't process certain amino acids, it can't receive proper nutrition. This is a genetic disorder that starts in childhood and can result in developmental delay, seizures, coma, and death if not treated. And what does the kid who manages to fight through all of that get? To spend the rest of his or her life having to explain to people that they survived "Maple Syrup Urine Disease," because one of the symptoms is sweet-smelling urine.


8. Coxsackie Virus

This is a virus that lives in the digestive tract and results in blisters on the mouth, tongue, and esophagus. It's a real thing. But naming it Coxsackie Virus is like naming a planet 'Uranus.' Someone should have said something before it was made official.


7. Paris Syndrome

Paris is supposed to be the epicenter of culture, fashion, beauty, romance, and the good life. At least that's how the tourism board sells it, and they sell it well. The problem is, they set tourists up for the ideal Paris, and get a bad reaction when people find the actual Paris - which is beautiful, but is still a modern city, full of traffic, noise, inconveniences, and rude people. Paris syndrome includes extreme disorientation, shock, feelings of persecution, and sometimes hallucinations. The syndrome is supposed to be more likely to hit people whose culture is very different from that of Parisians - Japanese people are the most likely victims. Several people a year have to be shipped home with a doctor on board to treat them. Others just have a really miserable vacation.


6. Cat Scratch Fever

To be fair, this one only became cutesy because of the song, but it's still unfortunate. Cat saliva sometimes has bartonella bacteria in it. This swells the lymph nodes, and sometimes opens up tunnels from the lymph nodes back to the skin to drain fluid. Catchy tune, though.


5. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

This is a neurological syndrome that affects perception. People can feel like they're giants, or have giant body parts, moving through a tiny world. They can also feel like they've shrunk down to a miniature version of themselves. Sounds a bit like a fun trip, but having a view of reality that is completely off-kilter is a dangerous thing when it comes to walking downstairs or gauging how long a fall is. This syndrome most often comes on at night. Pleasant dreams!


4. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine (Or Jumping Frenchman Disorder)

This is a rare condition, found in certain lumberjacks in Maine and Quebec in the early 19th century, which causes the sufferer to obey any order that is given suddenly and in a loud voice. They do this involuntarily, and while repeating the order exactly, also in a loud voice. Scientists believe that is a weird twist on the body's 'startle response.' Some people jump or flinch when they're startled. These people turn into mindless killing machines. (Although I suppose you could give them orders that don't involve killing. That's just naturally where my mind goes.)


3. Broken Heart Syndrome

This sounds romantic, like something that explains the 'she died from grief' scenes in old novels, but for the people suffering from it, it's just another kick in the teeth. When extreme stress hits a person, the stress hormones can enlarge a certain part of their heart, which causes it to not work as well. The rest of the heart has to work harder to compensate, and the combination brings on heart-attack-like symptoms. Often, the initial stress is from losing a loved one, which gives the syndrome its sentimental name.


2. Ministroke

Awwww. It's a cute little stroke! With a complete, if temporary, loss of function for the affected part of the brain! Isn't it adorable? Oh, you don't want it? Well, I can't return it. So enjoy.


1. Grinch Syndrome

You know it's bad when doctors go Seussian. Those with Grinch Syndrome have a heart that's 'two sizes too small.' Unlike the syndrome's namesake, their heart size is literal, not metaphorical. And instead of prancing around learning the true meaning of Christmas, they get to do things like sitting down a lot, since they're always dizzy and tired. Fortunately, they can improve their health with exercise. If I were in their position, I'd take up burglary. If I got caught, I'd tell them I couldn't help it. I had Grinch Syndrome.


Via NIH, Kids Health, Neatorama, NCBI, AIWS, WebMD, Do You Know That, Mayo Clinic, eMedicine, and MSNBC.