If you suffer from any level of insomnia, you know how damaging it can be to your health as well as your personal life. So you can just imagine having a disease that NEVER allows you to sleep, keeping you in a constant state of exhaustion…until your body gives up and dies.
That’s what fatal familial insomnia (FFI) is. The disease is extremely rare (less than one out of 10 million people have it), but those who do suffer from it live in extreme agony. Sadly, so far there is no cure.
The cause of FFI is a mutated protein called PrPSc, which has only been found in 40 families worldwide, affecting around 100 people.
The first signs of the disease are just basic symptoms of insomnia, along with panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias.
After four months pass, the hallucinations start. Sometimes victims will act out their dreams, despite not really being asleep. One woman, who was a hair stylist before being diagnosed, brushed imaginary people’s hair.
Five months later, victims are completely unable to sleep and experience rapid weight loss.
Over the course of the next six months, victims develop dementia and go into a non-responsive, dream-like state. Eventually, they die from exhaustion. The average lifespan of a patient after the onset of symptoms is 18 months.
(via Oddity Central)
There is currently no cure for FFI, but as sufferers of the disease continue donating their brains to science, experts believe they are getting closer to finding one. In the meantime, people with FFI go to often bizarre lengths to help them sleep, such as sensory deprivation tanks and even electroconvulsive therapy.