Science and medicine have come a long way since the days of elixirs and bloodletting. But some diseases still baffle scientists and make it difficult for sufferers to live normal lives. These 15 diseases will slowly cripple you over time; one may make you rethink the meaning of a disability (page 10).
1. Alzheimer’s disease
Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, but Alzheimer’s disease is not. The sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., this progressive disease lacks a cure. Early symptoms include mild memory loss, so a person may think they’re just forgetful. Over time, however, Alzheimer’s takes away all memories, causing fear, confusion, and an inability to function. Children become strangers, and even language can be lost forever.
Next: You probably never heard of this one.