Even if we humans are making significant progress in the field of science and technology, there are still many rare medical conditions that we don’t know why they occur. Medical experts are still trying to create a cure for many diseases. Talking about certain rare conditions, many people even don’t know that they have or had it! Crazy, right? Impossible, you think?
Sorry to say, but it is possible. Well, it is because many people ignore the symptoms, and they sometimes grow out of it. But few still continue to experience the symptoms. One such rare medical condition is Alice in Wonderland syndrome!
Growing up as kids, we all have read or watched the Alice in Wonderland cartoon. Who knew that there is a medical condition named after it!! So, what is it exactly, and how rare is Alice in Wonderland syndrome? We will be sharing these pieces of information in detail here!!
What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?
Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a rare condition where the person suddenly sees the surrounding objects or their own body getting bigger or smaller. Apart from this, the person may see the nearby objects as distorted. The Alice in Wonderland syndrome episodes may last from a few seconds to hours, and in some cases, these last for the day.
Who gave the term Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?
It was John Todd who firstly identified this unique and rare perception disorder in some patients in the year 1955. Hence, it is also known as Todd’s syndrome.
He used the term Alice in Wonderland because the patients experience and see things as Alice does when she falls down the rabbit hole and reaches Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Symptoms
Alice in Wonderland syndrome symptoms differs from one person to another. A person with this syndrome gets affected by the way he or she sees, smells, hears, touches things. For some, even the time moves slow or fast during an episode of Alice in Wonderland syndrome.
According to a study, there are three main types of perception disorder related to Alice in Wonderland syndrome:
Type A, where you may see your body changing shape or size.
Type B, where you may see the surrounding objects as distorted or changing size.
Type C, where you may experience symptoms of both type A and type B.
Following are the type B AIWS symptoms:
Distortion of the size of objects
There are two types of conditions in this case that you may experience due to Alice in Wonderland syndrome- Micropsia and Macropsia.
Micropsia is if you see the objects nearby smaller than its actual size. Macropsia is if you see the objects nearby bigger than its actual size.
Distortion of the shape of objects
When only the shape of objects seems to be distorted, then the condition is known as metamorphopsia, which is another symptom of AIWS. In metamorphopsia, you may see objects or anything straight as wavy or as warped.
Distortion of the actual distance of the objects from you
In this case, there are two conditions that you may experience – teleopsia and pelopsia.
Teleopsia is when you perceive objects to become much further away from you, but in reality, they are closer to you. Pelopsia is when you see objects too much closer to you, but they are, in fact, far away from you.
Distortion of sound and time
During an episode of AIWS, you may hear each and every sound either too loud or too low.
Other than these, a person with this syndrome may also experience the following:
- Find difficulty in walking as the vision is distorted.
- May experience hallucinations along with the distorted vision.
- Loss of time.
- Migraine headaches are most likely to occur during an episode of this syndrome.
What could be the cause of this rare condition?
Unfortunately, medical experts are still not sure about the exact reason why this syndrome occurs. However, there are a few possible causes of Alice in Wonderland syndrome:
In most cases, patients with AIWS symptoms come with severe migraine headaches. Treatment of migraines seems to reduce visual distortions.
According to a report, more than 30 percent of people with this syndrome have an underlying infection problem. Infections related to Epstein Barr virus, Influenza A virus, Lyme disease may be the cause of Alice in Wonderland syndrome.
Other than these, intake of psychedelic drugs, development of brain tumors, extreme stress for a prolonged time, trauma to the head may also cause a person to experience an episode of this syndrome.
Very less is known
The thing is, doctors believe that Alice in Wonderland syndrome is not exactly a vision problem, nor a sign of mental illness. Furthermore, studies are required to understand this rare form of medical condition.
Also, since many are unaware of this condition as real, even if some may have experienced or still experience it, hesitate to discuss it with someone. Many people also experience such symptoms only or twice, hence remains undisclosed. Hence, a fewer number of medical reports of this syndrome is the reason why there is so less study done in the medical field.
So, how rare is Alice in Wonderland syndrome? According to a report, only 10 to 20 percent of the total population may have this condition.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Treatment
As the cause of it is unclear, there is no clear-cut Alice in Wonderland syndrome treatment. The only way to reduce and stop the symptoms of AIWS is by finding out an underlying issue like migraine, possible infections, stress, and provide the required treatment.
Experiencing the symptoms of Alice in Wonderland syndrome, be it for a few seconds can be scary, and you may feel uncomfortable. Patients of AIWS may also experience panic attacks and feel stressed out after going through an episode. One important point here is that Alice in Wonderland syndrome alone is not fatal or dangerous for your health, but the experience will be uneasy.
If you have ever felt any of the Alice in Wonderland syndrome symptoms, or still experience it, be it once in a blue moon, trying discussing with someone you are comfortable with and if necessary, consult a doctor.