With 2018 coming to an end and 2019 just around the corner, it’s time to reflect upon the last year. While we have experienced some great scientific and medical advances, not all the news that came out of the past year is positive…

Every so often there’s a headline that makes its way around social media, causing shock and awe to all that read it. These are the jaw-dropping, mind-blowing or completely disturbing stories that stick with us, the ones that are so hard to forget.

We’ve put together a list of 25 of the most frightening, shocking and disturbing health-related new stories from 2018:

#1 – “Record Number Of Tickborne Diseases Reported In U.S. In 2017”

We’ve seen many headlines over the course of the last couple of years about the rising number of ticks being reported across the United States. However, what many people fail to consider is that with more ticks, we often see more tickborne illnesses. This includes diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Powassan virus disease, babesiosis, and, the most talked about, Lyme disease. Not only has this made headlines, the original article citing this trend was a media release published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

#2 – “A Woman Almost Went Blind In One Eye After Swimming With Her Contact Lenses”

If you are a contact wearer, then you are well aware of the precautions that you should take to avoid any long-term complications, including removing your contacts when necessary and always cleaning them thoroughly prior to use. However, let’s be honest, we’re all normal and have made mistakes or bad judgment call at one time or another. Following a frighteningly close call, a Colorado woman is sharing her story in hopes of warning contact wearers of the risks of wearing their lenses in the pool. A week after swimming with her son, she noticed her eyes became itchy, red and painful, which was then followed by loss of vision in one eye. After seeing a specialist, she found out she had developed a rare infection that has been associated with swimming or bathing while wearing contact lenses called Acanthamoeba keratitis. Her story had a happy ending, but only after a year of treatment and a cornea transplant.

#3 – “Last Year, 137 Women Were Killed By Someone They Knew – Each Day”

The United Nations released a terrifying study, assessing data collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2017. The study revealed that approximately 50,000 women were killed by a current or former partner or a family member around the globe last year alone, a number that can be broken down to approximately 137 women every day, or 6 women per hour. In the face of the #MeToo movement, this report highlights the terrifying impact of violence on women, a topic that demands our attention.

#4 – “U.S. Life Expectancy Declines Again, A Dismal Trend Not Seen Since World War I”

If you weren’t already concerned about the condition of our country today, experts are now reporting that the overall life expectancy for Americans has once again declined as a result of both the growing drug problem in our country and rising suicide rates. This has been an ongoing problem lasting 3 years now. A decline of this magnitude was last seen during the First World War. According to the most recent statistics, Americans can expect to live approximately 78.6 years.

#5 – “This Woman Got Black Hairy Tongue, But Uh, What Is That?”

Following a severe car accident, a 55-year-old woman was prescribed antibiotics as part of her treatment. However, she wound up suffering from an incredibly disturbing side effect. A week after her treatment she returned to her doctor with complaints of nausea, a bad taste in her mouth, and (the worst part) her tongue appeared to have turned black and formed tiny little hairs. The condition, known as Black Hairy Tongue, occurs when an infection causes the bumps on the surface of the tongue to grow longer than normal (it’s not really hair) and change color. While the cause is still up for debate, it’s often associated with tobacco use, bad oral hygiene or, as in the case of this woman, a side effect of antibiotics. Don’t worry, it’s reversible by adjusting your medication.

#6 – “Man Nearly Dies From Sepsis Due To Biting His Fingernails”

After approximately a week of flu-like symptoms, a 28-year-old man in England made the decision to call a health service hotline. Sharing his symptoms, including cold sweats and shakes, hot flashes, and swelling in his finger, he was advised he should go to a hospital immediately. By the time he reached the doctors, he had a high fever and red lines all over his body, a sign of spreading infection. The man found out that he had developed sepsis from biting his fingernails, and he was lucky to have survived the ordeal. If you needed a reason to stop this bad habit, here it is!

#7 – “Man’s Beer Belly Turns Out To Be 30-Pound Cancerous Tumor”

We all know at least one man in our lives that packs a little something extra around the waist, his ‘beer belly’ as he will affectionately refer to it. Downplaying the situation in this way may make it seem completely innocent, but 63-year-old Kevin Daly can tell you how dangerous that assumption may be. Following a CAT scan, doctors discovered a tumor the size of a beach ball. He had been losing weight recently, however, he noticed that the size of his stomach wasn’t changing with the rest of his body. Starting to suspect that something wasn’t right, he decided to seek medical advice. The man made a full recovery.

#8 – “A 704-Pound Woman Discovered Maggots In the Folds Of Her Skin”

If this headline doesn’t make you cringe, I’m not sure what would! The woman in question, Lisa Fleming, appeared on TLC’s ‘My 600-Lb Life’, sharing the story of her extreme weight and the ways that it impacts her daily life. She had noticed her one leg was bothering her on an ongoing basis, asking her daughter to take a look. What her daughter discovered was disturbing at best – the woman had maggots in the skin folds on her leg. Experts estimate she was likely suffering from a form of ‘wound myiasis’, in which flies lay their larva in an open wound or sore, leading to the growth of maggots. Experts confirm it’s not a common condition, but it does happen.

#9 – “My Toes Rotted Off After I Got My IUD”

Women today have a number of options available to take control of their reproductive health, from taking the pill to the use of an IUD. However, there are some risks that we may not be fully aware of. Earlier this year, the media shared the story of 25-year-old Tanai Smith, a woman who suffered an incredibly rare complication after getting an IUD. Three years after it was inserted, it pushed out of the uterus into her abdomen where it broke into pieces leading to infection. She had her ovaries and uterus removed, however, due to sepsis she later had to have her toes amputated after they died from lack of blood flow.

#10 – “A Man Pulled A 5-Foot-Long Tapeworm Out Of His Body And It May Have Been Caused By Eating Sushi”

A Californian man walked into an emergency room with a plastic bag in hand. What was he carrying? A 5-foot-long tapeworm that he had pulled out his body earlier in the bathroom! Suffering from cramps and bloody diarrhea, the man recognized that something was off. Noticing something hanging while going to the bathroom, he pulled it out, dropped it in the bag and immediately sought medical attention. The most disturbing part of the story? There is no definitive cause of the worm. While the man did report eating sushi daily, it was named the suspected cause but never definitively confirmed.

#11 – “The Soy Sauce Colon Cleanse That Left A Woman Brain Dead Shows How Dangerous Viral Internet Trends Can Be”

It has to be true because it’s written on the internet, right? We have taken a dangerous turn in our society, relying upon information found online first and foremost in many cases, trusting that it ‘must be’ safe. However, this story of a 39-year-old woman who decided to try a popular online colon cleanse may make you think twice before you trust what you read online. The cleanse required the woman to drink a liter of soy sauce in a 2-hour period, however, the sudden increase in sodium had a tragic effect on her health, causing severe damage of her brain leaving her brain dead.

#12 – “I Went To The ER With A Live Roach In My Hear And It Was As Horrifying As You Think”

Just reading this headline is enough to turn my stomach but reading Katie Holley’s first-hand account drives the point home. The woman and her husband had moved into a new home, finding themselves battling an ongoing cockroach problem, one that had started before their arrival. They called an exterminator to handle the problem, setting up an ongoing contract for him to return every 3 months and respray the home. However, one night she woke up feeling as though someone had placed what she described as an ice chip in her ear. When she tried to remove it with a cotton swab, she felt the object move. After looking and confirming it was a roach, her husband tried to remove it with tweezers to no avail. She wound up going to the ER where the medical team used lidocaine to kill the roach before removing it.

#13 – “Mom Shares Warning About Car Seat Danger After Her Toddler’s Death”

While Lisa Smith isn’t encouraging mothers not to use car seats to keep their young children safe, however, she is sharing her story in the hope that parents across the country are a little more diligent about car seat safety. Her 17-month-old daughter Mia fell asleep in her seat and failed to wake up, a result of what experts call positional asphyxia. This means that she was sitting in a way that her airway was cut off, her sleeping position preventing her from breathing properly. When you place a child’s car seat in the vehicle, it is tilted at a 45-degree angle, which results in the baby’s head resting backward keeping the airway open. However, when they aren’t in the car, their heads slump forward, leading to a risky position. For this reason, allowing a baby to sleep in a car seat once it has been taken from the car can be incredibly dangerous.

#14 – “A Dangerous Parasitic Illness Spread By Bugs That Bite People’s Faces At Night Is Spreading In The US, Doctors Warn”

We like to think when we crawl into bed and fall asleep, arguably our most vulnerable time of the day, we are going to be safe and sound in our own beds. However, reports indicated that there has been a number of cases reported across the country in which a species of triatomine bugs are crawling onto Americans in their sleep and biting them, transmitting Chagas disease. While the disease can be treated, when left untreated it is estimated that 30% of patients are at risk for life-threatening heart complications. While that sounds promising, just make sure you get treatment, there’s one big problem to consider – most people don’t show any sign of the infection until it’s too late.

#15 – “A Man Had His Arm Amputated After Eating Raw Seafood Contaminated With A Potentially Flesh-Eating Bacteria”

It’s not uncommon to hear of health complications following eating contaminated foods, the main cause of food-related recalls. However, this story doesn’t start with a common contamination like e-Coli. A man in South Korea showed up at his local emergency room complaining of unbearable pain and a fever just 12 hours after eating raw seafood. Doctors discovered that the man had what appeared to be flesh-eating bacteria. After treating the man with IV antibiotics and seeing no relief, his condition progressed to the point that it required the amputation of his left forearm. Following the amputation, he reportedly made a full recovery.

#16 – “A Mosquito Virus That Had Never Been Identified In Humans Was Found In A Florida Boy”

Suffering from a rash across his chest, abdomen, back, and face and a high fever, a 16-year-old Florida boy visited an urgent care center in search of an answer. Much to everyone’s surprise, testing eventually revealed that the boy had contracted the keystone virus, well known in a number of animals including whitetail deer, squirrels, and raccoons but never before identified in humans. Previously that summer the boy had attended band camp where he had been bitten several times by mosquitoes, which the doctors assume was the cause. In more extreme cases, the virus can cause brain swelling and seizures.

#17 – “Stifling A Sneeze Ruptured This Man’s Throat, Prompting A Warning From Doctors”

Have you ever felt a sneeze coming on, but you’re not currently in a place where you just want to let it roll? If you feel that tickle in the back of your nose, doctors are warning you should resist the urge to hold it back Why? It has been reported that a British man actually blew a hole in his throat after holding back a powerful sneeze. After stifling a sneeze, he found himself experiencing severe pain, unable to swallow and struggling to speak. The good news? After a week in the hospital, the man was released with a warning about holding back his sneezes in the future.

#18 – “A Woman Had A 50-Pound Growth Removed From Her Ovary – After Doctors Reportedly Told Her To Lose Weight”

Kayla Rahn, a 30-year-old resident of Alabama wasn’t one to shy away from the fact that she was ‘gaining weight’. In fact, discovering that her clothing no longer fit, she eventually hit a point where she could no longer deny that something was going on. She tried to lose the weight, but to no avail, all while seeking the advice of 4 different doctors who simply told her she needed to keep working on her weight loss efforts. Advocating for herself, Rahn refused to accept there wasn’t something more happening and it’s a good thing she did. Doctors discovered a 50-pound mass in her ovary, surgically removing it and freeing her from all the excess weight.

#19 – “Runny Nose Or Brain Fluid Leak?”

It’s a question that likely never crossed your mind, after all, if there is something running out of your nose it’s obviously just a sinus cold or allergies, right? For one Omaha woman, this seemingly crazy question became a reality. Suffering from a runny nose for approximately 2 years straight, Kendra Jackson realized that something else was happening. It turned out that she had suffered a brain injury from a traumatic car accident in 2013, and the fluid that was running from her nose was actually cerebrospinal fluid from the brain. In Jackson’s case, the condition was caught and treated but had they not diagnosed the condition it could have led to a potentially life-threatening infection.

#20 – “A Wisconsin Man Had To Have His Hands And Legs Amputated Because Of A Bacterial Infection He Got After Being Licked By A Dog”

Dogs, cats, and other pets have become a regular part of the American family, with many even viewing these pets as their ‘fur children’ and going as far as allowing them to sleep in their bed. However, experts are warning that we should be aware of the potential risks associated with sharing our lives with a pet in this way, even if they are incredibly rare. A 48-year-old man in Wisconsin learned this the hard way. After what doctors believe was licks from his dog, the man contracted capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacterial infection that is carried by the majority of dogs and cats (although rarely contracted unless from a bite). As a result of the infection, he had to have his hands and legs amputated. While he may be considered a more extreme case, 30% of cases are fatal, which highlights the importance of seeing a doctor if you are bit, even by your own pets.

#21 – “A Man Broke His Penis While Having Sex – Here’s What You Can Learn From His Experience”

There are some injuries that simultaneously make us cringe in sympathetic pain while also greatly intriguing us and this story is certainly one of those moments. Comedian Ross Asdourian was having sex after a few drinks when he heard what he described as an ‘audible pop’. Explaining the situation, Asdourian said he had been having sex in ‘doggy style’ when he slipped out. Instead of just going back in, he slightly misjudged the distance leading to the popping sound. The man broke both his erectile tissue and his urethra, an incredibly painful injury that required immediate medical attention. Not only is he sharing his story on television, but he has also now written a book about his ordeal.

#22 – “One-Third Of US Parents Plan To Skip Flu Shots For Their Kids This Season”

This one may not seem like a frightening headline at first, especially if you are among the portion of the American public that questions the safety and effectiveness of the flu shot. However, the bigger concern is the data included in the article. It was discussing a report published by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, sharing the results of an online poll. In it, 21% of the parents surveyed indicated that they don’t recall their health care provider making any recommendation regarding the flu shot and their child’s health, revealing that there appears to be a gap in the guidance that physicians are providing. Whether you decide to support the flu shot or not, the conversation should occur ensuring that parents are being provided with the necessary information to make an educated decision.

#23 – “The Photos Of A Woman’s Botched Butt Injections Will Make You Think Twice Before Getting Plastic Surgery”

Jenelle Salazar Butler was looking for that magical quick fix for the perfectly round, perky butt, and so she decided to undergo illegal butt injections. Following the procedure, she was experiencing some pain, but she thought nothing of it, assuming it was just passing residual pain. However, the pain persisted and researching her symptoms online she discovered she was facing a potentially serious situation. She had surgery to remove the procedure, but it’s a long, dangerous and painful procedure as the silicone adheres to healthy tissue like a cement. She needed a total of 3 blood transfusions in 3 days following the surgery and was in what she described as the worst pain of her life. Butler was lucky and survived the ordeal, but now she is speaking up warning other women about the risks.

#24 – “A Woman Died Of A Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection. The Suspect: Her Neti Pot”

It’s a headline that triggered a lot of debate and controversy, as those who rely on their neti pots during cold and flu season, as well as year-round in the management of allergies, argued that the blame was being misplaced by the mainstream media. Following use of a neti-pot, a 69-year-old woman contracted Balamuthia mandrillaris, a brain-eating amoebic infection. However, the cause of the infection wasn’t the neti pot itself, it was the water the woman chose to use. Ignoring the safety instructions that came with the device, the woman allegedly used tap water. Following surgery, revealing the extent of the infection, the woman slipped into a coma and died. It’s a clear reminder to always pay attention to the printed safety instructions, they are included for a reason.

#25 – “Most States Facing Confirmed Or Possible Cases Of Polio-Like Illness”

There is little that brings more fear to a parent than the idea that there may be a serious disease making it’s rounds that targets children, but this is the reality in the United States this year. The disease in question is acute flaccid myelitis, which can cause paralysis in those who are infected. It’s certainly not a new disease, but it appears to be on a serious uptake this year, with 47 confirmed cases and 49 suspected cases or cases currently under investigation reported by CNN. Of the 48 state health departments that they spoke with, 30 confirmed that they had at least one case confirmed, suspected or under investigation making it clear that this is a widespread problem in our country at this time.

2018 wasn’t all bad! Check out these 10 incredible medical innovations this year:

Image via Haiku Deck

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