The Absolute Worst Diseases You Could Ever Get

As probiotic enthusiasts will tell you, not all microorganisms are bad. Many of them, like viruses, cause diseases that can’t be treated. Some of the worst diseases you can get come on suddenly and don’t give much hope of survival. You could be at risk for more than one of them.

Some are genetic. Many are untreatable. Thankfully, most aren’t contagious — but some can be. Here are some of the word’s worst diseases — many of which you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva

male skeleton

With this disease, you lose the ability to move. | Eraxion/Getty Images

People with FOP basically become human statues. Over time, they lose the ability to move, eat, and breathe because their muscles and connective tissues turn into bone. It’s rare, but those who have it also die with it. there is no cure.

Next: These people have a hard time falling asleep — but not for the reason you think.

2. Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome

Man asleep on his side

Most people are able to breathe easily as they sleep. | YakobchukOlena/Getty Images

When you breathe, whether you’re awake or asleep, you don’t have to think about it. People with CCHS do — and they often can’t breathe while they’re asleep. Most are hooked up to ventilators to keep them alive while sleeping.

Next: This disease has a higher mortality rate than you might expect.

3. Influenza A

Great egrets and American avocets

This disease is often called “bird flu,” and can be severe. | OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

The H5N1 flu virus — sometimes referred to as “bird flu” — has a 60% mortality rate among humans who are unfortunate enough to contract it. There’s a possibility that it could genetically evolve to spread easier from person to person, which could become a major public health concern.

Next: This is a consequence of weight gain you probably never considered.

4. Adiposis dolorosa

Woman Has Stomach Ache

Is that lump on your torso something serious?  |

This disease, most common in obese women between the ages of 35 and 50, causes painful, benign tumors to grow around the torso, arms, and buttocks. Fatigue, depression, seizures, and dementia are other possible side effects.

Next: Think of the most painful migraine you’ve ever had. This is worse.

5. Trigeminal neuralgia

primary teacher having headache in classroom

Constant and frequent headaches are a sign of this disease.| Michaeljung/Getty Images

Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when one of the nerves attached to the brain becomes damaged in some way. The first type of this disease causes frequent episodes of severe head pain that can last up to two minutes at a time. There are a few treatment options, but they aren’t guaranteed to work for everyone.

Next: Without treatment, this disease is one of the worst out there.


Sick man with fever coughing

Your entire immune system suffers. |

This severe, deadly phase of HIV infection damages a person’s immune system, exposing them to a variety of illnesses that most people’s bodies can fight off easily. Without treatment, people who have progressed to this stage can live up to three years.

Next: Imagine developing a rash every time you tried to take a shower. It’s a real thing.

7. Aquagenic urticaria

Woman swimming in the pool

If hives develop after a swim, seek help immediately. | Stajic

Sometimes referred to as a “water allergy,” aquagenic urticaria causes a person to develop hives immediately after coming into contact with water. It’s too rare to know which treatments are most effective, but medications might help relieve symptoms in some cases.

Next: This disease still exists, even though many people think it’s long gone.

8. Septicemic plague

Cat flea

The plague still exists and is as deadly as ever. | marcouliana/Getty Images

Think the plague is long gone? It’s still here — and, without treatment, it’s still extremely deadly. Septicemic plague is one type of the disease that results from infected flea bits, and can cause internal bleeding, tissue death, and more.

Next: This is an extremely dangerous and contagious condition.

9. Meningitis

woman massaging her painful neck

Inflammation around the spine and neck is a sign. |

Meningitis causes inflammation in the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. There are a few possible causes and many risk factors, but it can cause memory problems, hearing loss, seizures, and even death.

Next: This disease is hard to diagnose.

10. Marburg hemorrhagic fever

Sick man with thermometer in mouth

Could that fever be something more serious? |

People with this disease first experience a fever, chills, and headaches, symptoms similar to a standard flu virus. It quickly progresses though, causing organ failure, hemorrhaging, dehydration, and eventually, death. It’s difficult to diagnose and treat properly because it shares many symptoms with malaria.

Next: People need to seek treatment for this immediately.

11. Rabies

Raccoon on tree

Beware of bites from wild animals. |

People bitten by rabid animals, usually wild ones like raccoons, can develop rabies, a viral infection that can cause brain damage and death. Seeking medical attention will allow professionals to determine whether or not you need a rabies vaccine.

Next: Once you develop this disease, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

12. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

An actual human brain

This brain disease is particularly deadly. | Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

About 90% of people who start showing symptoms of this disease die within a year. This degenerative brain disease cannot be controlled or treated. Researchers don’t even know what causes it. Thankfully, only about one in a million people develop it.

Next: This isn’t your usual stomach bug.

13. Brainerd diarrhea

Closeup photo of woman sitting on toilet and using toilet paper

This disease is terrifying. | Artfoliophoto/iStock/Getty Images

People infected with Brainerd diarrhea experience up to 20 episodes of severe diarrhea every day for four consecutive weeks or more. Possibly the worst thing about this severe form of diarrhea is that it’s resistant to antibiotic treatments.

Next: There is no cure for this painful, devastating genetic condition.

14. Sickle cell anemia

Medicine with a glass of water

You may be popping more pain pills if you have this disease. | FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Thanks to modern medicine, people with sickle cell anemia can now live well into their 60s — a much longer life expectancy than previous decades. A lack of healthy red blood cells can cause lifelong fatigue and chronic pain, as well as frequent infections.

Next: This rare, but destructive disease attacks the spinal cord.

15. Granulomatous amoebic encephalitis

Nicole Briggs looks at a real human brain being displayed as part of new exhibition

The results of this disease are terrifying. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Many people are exposed to disease-causing amoeba at some point in their lives, but don’t get infected. It’s possible to experience serious infections of the brain and spinal cord, if these organisms enter your body through a cut in your skin or by unknowingly inhaling them.

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