Open Thread: Medical “Facts”

Okay, the only reason I haven’t vomited all over my own feet today is that I’ve only drunk water since I woke up. Which is to say, I’m sick and I’m going to go lie down. You’re going to have to get along without me today. Here, have an open thread.

To get you started, a topic: Relate interesting medical-related “facts.” As with this previous thread on “facts,” the word “facts” is in quotes for a reason.

Here’s three from me:

1. The 17th century Flemish believed that crocodile teeth would cure gout and syphilis when ground into a poultice with chicken fat and cow dung, but abandoned the practice when it was determined that the poultice invariably cured the wrong disease of the two in any particular patient.

2. American President Martin Van Buren (1782 – 1862) was afflicted with “pica,” a disorder which causes a person to consume non-food objects such as rocks or coins. Van Buren’s nickname “The Little Magician” is rooted in the fact that coins in his vicinity would disappear down his gullet if others did not keep a close eye on them.

3. Recent medical studies at the University of Kentucky suggest that Americans in the southern states have the highest rates of flatulence, breaking wind 1.3 times as often as midwesterners, the second most flatulent group, and 2.1 times as much as the least flatulent Americans, who reside in the Pacific northwest. However, Pacific northwesterners rank at the top for smelliest flatulence, which may relate to a high incidence of vegetarianism and veganism in the area, relative to other regions in the country.

Now. Your “facts,” please.

56 Comments on “Open Thread: Medical “Facts””

  1. Hochner’s Syndrome is an actual syndrome wherein one is physically unable to discern one’s ass from one’s elbow. Hochner’s By Proxy Syndrome means the patient cannot keep their ass from another’s elbow.

  2. A prescription for nitroglycerin (sometimes called glyceryl trinitrate), prescribed for some heart conditions, is a contraindication for Viagra. It is also not recommended to hit yourself in the stomach when taking nitroglycerin.

  3. Sorry to hear that you are under the weather John. And the truth be. I am as well. I skipped work today and did the couch thing. Drifting in and out of sleep. I though at first it might of been the Chinese Schnitzel I ate last night. But apparently there is something going around….
    So with that in mind. Lots of soup, bed rest, and stay away from the Croc’s teeth and coin eating.
    Guten Nacht!

  4. Amnesia is a rare disorder, but oddly enough, the highest rate of amnesia is among soap opera actors. Ironically, it has never happened to an actor whose character has had amnesia. Doctors are baffled, but actors who play doctors on TV claim they have 27 possibilities why. They promise they’ll find the right one just before the end of the episode.

  5. I’m worried that President Bush may be suffering from Mythomania.

    [Wikipedia Snip]

    Mythomania (also known as pseudologia fantastica or pathological lying) is a condition involving compulsive lying by a person with no obvious motivation. The affected person might believe their lies to be truth, and may have to create elaborate myths to reconcile them with other facts.


    //Just Saying
    // Ok I’ll stop being a troublemaker :-)

  6. Spontaneous Leperosy has been on the rise in New England for the last 20 years. Contaminated computer mice are currently being investigated as a possible cause.

  7. And now for a medical fact:
    Sissy, the wife of one of the Royal Austrian Hapsburg’s used to cover her face with cow steaks with the intention of clearing her complexion.
    I wonder if the steaks were served for dinner after she got her use out of them…?

  8. Roberto Begnini first got the idea for LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL when Jim Jarmusch brought his bootleg VHS copy of the rough cut of THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED to the wrap party for DOWN BY LAW. Moved by Jerry Lewis’s performance, Begnini reworked the central concept and bided his time until he became a big enough star to get the project made.

  9. John Harvey Kellogg, creator of corn flake cereal and founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, believed that vegetarianism was the best path to mental and physical health. However, when he died, the autopsy revealed his bones were made entirely of beef jerky.


  10. Ray:

    And now for a medical fact:
    Sissy, the wife of one of the Royal Austrian Hapsburg’s used to cover her face with cow steaks with the intention of clearing her complexion.
    I wonder if the steaks were served for dinner after she got her use out of them…?

    They were not. They were stored in a solution of vinegar, beeswax and horse milk in the mistaken belief that the regenerative powers of the beef would be increased.

    Most of the steaks soon rotted, but one failed to decompose. It remains in the original mixture in a special display at the Royal Museum of Medical, Spiritual and Military Wonders. Selected scientists are allowed to remove a tiny sample once a year for study.

    Current research suggests that a genetic mutation in the cow it came from may have resulted in it’s longevity. A competing school of thought is trying to locate where the beeswax came from and hope to find descendants of that hive still alive.

  11. Stuttering Dumbass-itis: a condition caused when an over educated spoiled dumbass is thrust into public spotlight and forced to show just how ignorant he really is. It’s very sad to witness and can seem to go on forever when broadcast on NPR.

  12. Hermaphrodism is rife among whooping cranes. Fully 1 in 11 whooping cranes possess both male and female reproductive organs, although in the majority of cases (67%) one of the sets is clearly secondary and vestigial.

    Theories that this is a result of DDT poisoning were conclusively disproved by the discovery of fossilized hermaphorditic cranes dating back millions of years.

    The International Crane Foundation ( considered using fully hermaphroditic cranes to jumpstart crane breeding programs, but discarded the idea due to concerns about genetic diversity.

  13. John, since your daughter hasn’t BEEN in school for weeks, she cannot have brought The Crud home from there — must be Con Fever from Boskone.

    Con Fever is very similar to Spring Break Disease and Fall Freshman Flu, whereby a large number of people from all over the country converge to one spot and exchange microbes for whom they have no current immunity.

    Oh, you want FACTS…

    Merck is currently in the final testing phase of a new drug internally referred to as Noprobital (as in No Probative Value), which they intend to market to other pharmaceutical companies and collect a percentage of the royalties from the secondary company. The drug is, in fact, not a drug at all but a carefully constructed sugar pill. By providing an FDA standardized placebo, Noprobital will allow doctors to both help those patients who don’t need additional chemicals to damage liver and kidneys already overworked by too many prescription drugs AND sort out those loser patients who are just attention seekers and aren’t really sick. The studies provided to FDA show a 97.8% success rate amongst 16 non-life threatening illnesses and a surprising 41.2% three-year life expectancy in 3 out of 5 terminal conditions being treated.

    Noprobital is the first drug application ever classified by the FDA as Top Secret, but with 5 blogs and 17 websites on Noprobital, and a Wikipedia entry which keeps getting undeleted every Tuesday, the information isn’t exactly as secret as Merck and the Federal government intended.

    True fact.

    “Dr.” Phil

  14. If you store a bride’s socks in the freezer the night before the wedding, she may get cold feet the next day. But if you store them in the oven, the groom will be happy, because she will be hot!

  15. Maybe it’s just the Boston food. Toby Buckell was sick while we were rooming together over the weekend, and now I’m sick; but the problem is, I have different symptoms from both of you. So… we face the bright prospect of each of us yet coming down with what the other two had! Which means that once I get over my current malaise I’ll either vomit on my shoes or keel over from violent stomach cramps. Yee ha! Conventions are fun!

  16. Nathan Zumwalt

    “… does that mean I’m destined to be a bestselling author? Or my wife?”

    I don’t think it means you’re destined to be your wife, but please keep us updated.

  17. Grandmother Dropdeaditis, a common affliction among college student where some relative, not in the home, suddenly passes at a time which coincides with midterms of the students. This is one of the few diseases which require two people, not physically in proximity, to have specific relationships to complete the life cycle of the disease.

  18. Pectobaritis is the medical condition for the mammaries in human females enlarging to the point where the weight of the breast keeps the attached muscles in the shoulder and underarm areas from fulling extending, and causing cramping and inflammation in those particular muscles. Dolly Parton suffers from pectobaritis and currently undergoes a thrice-weekly regimen of electrostimulation just so she can retain the full use of her shoulders.

  19. If a man ingests a mixture of ground lion’s teeth, rose pedals, the pulped works of Omar Khayyam, and washes it all down with 20 year-old scotch, he will become irresistible to women.

    Unfortunately, he’ll become irresistible to the sort of women who keep the embalmed corpses of annoying relatives in the basement. But we’re hoping to fix that bug in the next release.

  20. Ugh — Carry a little tube of hand santizer especially in the winter months at your next convention. You may be contributing to an eventual super germ, but hell if it doesn’t ward away the nasties in the meantime.

    Here is my contribution to the thread:

    1.) Coughing can cause air to move through your windpipe faster than the speed of sound — over a thousand feet per second!

    2.) 85% of the population can curl their tongue into a tube. It is a purely genetic trait.

    3.) The longest bout of hiccups lasted 69 years!

    4.) By the time you are 70 you will have easily drunk over 12,000 gallons of water.

    5.) The easiest way to tell if someone’s thought process is primarily right or left brained is to ask them the following question face to face.

    “Do you prefer a good war or a bad peace.”

    If you monitor the way their eyes move take the opposite direction (i.e if they look left, they are right brained oriented)

  21. Zombieism is in fact a particularly strong case of extreme boredom and ravenous hunger. The afflicted person shuffles around and moans incoherently due to a lack of stimlulation and insufficient energy. It is a popular misconception that zombies are only out to consume human flesh. This is due to the fact that when a concerned party tries to help the afflicted person, the zombie’s mouth, nearly always agape, comes in contact with some part of the rescuer and mistakes the rescurer for a side of beef. In the most extreme conditions, the “zombie” will actually be so bored he/she begins to decompose.

  22. People who went to Boskone have been dropping like flies. Both GRRM and Parris had been hit by a virus that has kept them stranded in Boston. Others report the same.

    Good luck.

  23. Serenitophilia:

    An affliction that only affects those who have viewed the Fox television series Firefly or the motion picture Serenity. The afflicted are compelled to gather in groups and protest the cancellation of the series and to promote future Serenity products. People with this affliction will collect any and all products related to the series/movie. The most seriously affected will dress and talk like characters from the show. The afflicted will tend to curse in Chinese.

  24. My wife and I appear to have emerged unscathed from Boskone. It must be from all the vitamin C in the Wachusett Blueberry Ale.

  25. Randy:

    “OK, John, I’m debunking your #3.”

    I find it delightful that you’re going out of your way to debunk something that is actually false.

  26. Good God! I thought a virus kept me from going to Boskone. Perhaps a virus would have been brought back as well.

    Did you know viruses can be cured by swallowing pennies? Which is why Van Buren actually rarely got colds – but also never strayed too close to the North Pole.

  27. Whoever smelt it, dealt it.

    It was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine a few years back.

    Also, cracking knuckles releases serotonin and trace amounts of testosterone.

  28. Flexing your muscles in front of other men makes you go bald.

    Flexing your muscles in front of women makes your penis invert.

    Flexing your muscles in front of a parking meter makes the wings of pigeons fall off.

  29. The most common form of splenetic cancer is caused by a bacterium that grows primarily on the feet of penguins.

    Gorgonzola cheese contains large quantities of Vitamin W, and therefore is an effective treatment for hay fever.

  30. The use of felines as a primary wardrobe choice is the leading cause of Bobbitism. Unexpected visits by the UPS man (and subsequent doorbell ringing) increase the incidence by a factor of seven.

    The addition of bacon has shown no efficacy in preventing outbreaks.

    The use of a placebo (plastic bacon) showed no significant variance from the control group.

  31. A rare but serious form of repetitive stress injury is associated with attempting to write books after being exposed to “The DaVinci Code.” Attempts are being made to differenciate it from a similar seeming RSI associated with adolescents and pornography.

  32. OH Jeebus, you meant ‘FACTS’ and there I was telling the truth. I must have a bad case of:

    ILITERIOSCROLIOSIS (According to AMA)- A common disease where the sufferer’s brain does not actually comprehend the meaning of words being said/written/heard. Further study is required but subjects under scrutiny have responded with two methods currently being used in the medical field.

    Heavy doses of drugs including, ‘Wigraine’, ‘Trimpix’, and ‘Felbatol’ seem to calm the patient into actual comprehension.

    Frontal labotomies are ‘last resort’ and should not be considered unless patient has exhibited more than five episodes in a day.

    I think I’m pretty much fraked.

  33. In the 12th-14th century England, there was a folk belief that ingesting crushed gemstones could cure intestinal illnesses. Crushed rubies were used for ulcers, crushed emeralds were used for nausea, crushed emeralds were used for diarrhea, and crushed diamonds were used for the flu (which was believed to be caused by an imbalance of intestinal humours).

    This folk remedy passed out of use in the 15th and 16th centuries as scientific methods were used to examine their purported effects. However, recent studies done by the Harvard School of Medicine have suggested that, in fact, the minerals and impurities which give those gemstones their color are actually useful for treating some intestinal illnesses. Unfortunately, they tested these properties by giving laboratory rats several times their body weight of the mineral. Though their stomach problems disappeared, the rats starved to death because they weighed so much they were unable to move themselves to the food bowl.


  34. Hello All:

    It’s been a while..I’ve been busy launching a new site, which I’ve linked in my username there.

    According to today’s poll on the site, most new parents are freaked out by a human head popping out of the naughty bits.

    Come on over and visit, and please leave the scalzigerms here.

    (I’m still beta testing so I appreciate any comments, voting, or other interaction.)

    Feel better, Bwana.


  35. In the Victorian period, the cure for all things that ailed women was to treat the uterous. One practice was cauterization. Another to insert a mix of mayonaise, mercury, and I believe arsenic, though I’m not remembering all the ingredients. But I’m sure of the mayo and mercury. Yeah, that’ll cure it.


  36. A rare but serious psychological disorder, called “doing stuff”, can now be remediated via a blockbuster new drug, popularly known by the trademark Passiva.

  37. Reliable medical authorities (Xillion, 2007) have shown that Cancer is not caused by genetic proclivities; or by radiation, dangerous chemicals, viruses or other environmental factors. Instead, Cancer is caused by nail biting, cheek chewing, and nose picking. In short, it is caused by the minute consumption of one’s own flesh and DNA.

  38. Fartology is the study of flatulence. Comparisons are made between individuals and cultures and also people of different time periods. A renowned fartologist must be well versed in time travel. An interesting cross-polinization has occured between Time Haters and fartologists. Time haters are people that travel back through time to hate on people, such as Jews to Hitler or African Americans to slave-masters. Time haters were made popular by Dave Chappelle, himself an avowed time hater and fartologist, although he keeps it a secret. At present people can only go back in time. How they return to the present is unknown. ibid 23.23.44.

  39. 100% TRUE!!!

    A 60-year-old man with acute pancreatitis developed persistent hiccups after insertion of a nasogastric tube. Removal of the latter did not terminate the hiccups which had also been treated with different drugs, and several manoeuvres were attempted, but with no success. Digital rectal massage was then performed resulting in abrupt cessation of the hiccups. Recurrence of the hiccups occurred several hours later, and again, they were terminated immediately with digital rectal massage. No other recurrences were observed. This is the second reported case associating cessation of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage. We suggest that this manoeuvre should be considered in cases of intractable hiccups before proceeding with pharmacological agents.

  40. The rocking head motions associated with hiccups and sneezes cause traumatic brain lesions similar to those diagnosed in professional boxers. A lengthy bout of sneezing or hiccups (five minutes or more) is the equivalent of a ten-year boxing career. The FDA is currently considering approval of a full neck and shoulders brace for patients suffering from hiccups or sneezing that protects the brain from injury by completely immobilizing the upper torso, neck and head. A similar device has already been approved for use by farm animals and pets.

    Get well soon, John.

  41. Sorry to hear you’re under the weather. Here’s some really stupid facts.

    1.) Sometimes when zoos want their pandas to procreate, they’ll show them porn movies.
    2.) Jell-O was invented in my mother’s birthplace, LeRoy, New York.
    3.) Chuck Palaniuk began his writing career at the tender age of 31. I just turned 31 a couple of weeks ago. Maybe there’s hope for me…????

  42. Wearing leather causes tannin to be absorbed by the skin, which can lead to anemia and fatigue. Long term, this results in weight increases, especially around the waist. Weak eyesight is also associated with the condition, so that long term leather wearers often also wear sunglasses.

    Extreme cases result in delusions about the superiority of certain brands of motorcycles, and a false sense of physical prowess. No known cure is available.

  43. The word “abracadabra” is actually an anglicized form of the phrase “habrá cadavre” meaning “there will be dead bodies” or more exactly “death happens”.

    Proper use of the term “abracadabra” is similar to the phrase “Shit Happens” (rather then the modern usage more commonly associated with either magicians or the Steve Miller Band).

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