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Have you ever been to the doctor because you had a fish jaw stuck in your eyeball? Or perhaps you've been rushed to the hospital after accidently inhaling your own earring? If you answered no to both of those questions, then consider yourself lucky: Fishy eyeballs and inhaled earrings are two real (and really bizarre) medical cases that have cropped up in recent years.
When doctors encounter such weird cases, they sometimes decide to publish a case report. Case reports are meant to add to scientific research, or help other doctors who might encounter the same strange symptoms in the future. But for those who aren't doctors, case reports illuminate the limits and the mysteries of the human body. Some also serve as highly effective cautionary tales.
Here's a look at 27 cases that will make your next trip to the doctor seem like a total bore.
Editor's Note: This article was first published on July 2, 2013, at 3:45 p.m. ET.
Enormous tapewormSlide 2 of 55
You know what they say about raw beef: You shouldn't eat it (at least, not unless you cook it first).
The tapeworm likely lived inside the man's small intestine for at least two years before he went to see the doctors who would ultimately help him flush out this lengthy stowaway. [Here's a list of top meats that can make you sick.]
The man complained of stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss; his doctors were able to quickly identify the cause of these symptoms because the patient brought along a crucial piece of evidence — a fragment of the parasite, which he had found in his stool. Combined with the patient's known predilection for raw beef, the tapeworm specimen helped doctors guess that the man was sharing his intestine with Taenia saginata(a species of beef tapeworm).
After being treated with an antibiotic that caused him to pass the tapeworm out of his body within hours, the man's symptoms cleared up in just three months, according to a case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine in January 2016. Presumably, the man's preference for uncooked beef passed just as quickly.Slide 3 of 55
Parasitic worm infectionSlide 4 of 55
Parasitic worm infection
What's worse than a parasitic worm infection? A parasitic worm infection that causes a "calcified bladder" — a condition that probably feels every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds.
A 43-year-old man in Qatar found out just how painful a calcified bladder can be. He had blood in his urine and pain when he peed for a month before doctors diagnosed him with an infection by the parasite Schistosoma, which is transmitted by freshwater snails.
The man's infection was located near his bladder and ureters(the tubes connecting the bladder to the kidneys). Eggs of the parasite ended up on the wall of the man's bladder, and his body's immune response caused these areas of the bladder wall to become calcified in a pattern known as "eggshell calcification," according to a case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine in February 2016.
While this kind of calcification as a result of schistosomiasis(another name for aSchistosoma infection) is not rare, it is unusual for doctors to see a patient with an entire bladder encased in calcium, since it takes years for that much calcium to build up inside the body.
But the patient's doctors suspected that the man actually became infected with the parasite as a child and that he lived with it for at least 30 years before doctors prescribed a treatment.Slide 5 of 55
Fish bone in the eyeballSlide 6 of 55
Fish bone in the eyeball
Nothing ruins a day at the beach quite like getting a fish bone stuck in your eyeball. Unfortunately, that's what happened to a beachgoer visiting the Red Sea in 2015.
The 52-year-old tourist was swimming in the Red Seawhen he collided with a school of fish. Not long after the incident, the man developed a swollen and droopy eyelid that wouldn't heal. A doctor's visit revealed he had an area of inflammation called a granuloma on his eyelid, and the patient underwent surgery to correct the issue.
But a granuloma wasn't the only thing that doctors removed from the erstwhile swimmer's eyeball during the surgery. "Two tubular structures" were also removed from the man's eyelid, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2015.
A biologist was called in to examine these strange specimens, which turned out to be the jawbones of a halfbeak, a fish that dwells in shallow coastal waters. The fish bones had immobilized the muscles controlling the man's eyelid, causing it to droop. But the droopy-eyed swimmer recovered shortly after his surgery.Slide 7 of 55
Sudoku seizuresSlide 8 of 55