Doctors and Their Food

After studying medicine for nearly two years, I’ve come to the conclusion that doctors are always hungry, or at least when they are naming medical conditions. Whether it is a fancy Latin word that ends with the letters “-itis” or named after some famous scientist in the past, there’s countless ways one can describe diseases and symptoms. However, in the medical world, somehow, nothing describes diseases better than with food. Here are some of the more common ones I’ve come across in my studies…

Strawberry Cervix — Trichomonas is a sexually-transmitted parasite that can cause vaginitis, with symptoms of itching, burning, and green discharge. In particularly, the cervix of a patient infected with trichomonas will have a punctate, red appearance, similar to the fruit shown below.

Apple Peel Atresia — During development, sometimes the vessels around the intestines of the developing fetus can become occluded, causing the intestines to underdevelop. The underdeveloped intestines will have an obliterated, spiral shape, similar to the peel of an apple that was freshly peeled.

Rice Water Diarrhea — This is what you get when you have cholera. No further explanation needed.

Orange Peel Skin — In breast cancer, neoplastic cells can invade and block lymphatic drainage from the skin. This causes the breast to become inflamed, causing a dimpled appearance, similar to the shiny, dimpled surface of an orange peel.

Cafe au lait Spots — Patients with the genetic disease of neurofibromatosis have an increased risk of not only neural tumors but also birth marks that resemble coffee stains.

Cottage Cheese Discharge — When the immune system is down, sometimes an otherwise benign fungus that naturally grows in your gut flora called Candida will overgrow and cause an infection. In women, this would cause a discharge that is often described as cottage cheese in appearance.

Currant Jelly Sputum — Klebsiella is a natural bacteria that lives in your gut. If your immune system is down and you accidentally aspirate klebsiella, you can get pneumonia, and spit out sputum that resembles something you put on your toast in the mornings. I don’t know.. it looks more like grape jelly to me…

Coffee Ground Sputum — If you have stomach bleeding, the iron in the blood that contacts the gastric acid in your stomach can oxidize, causing it to have a coffee-ground appearance, which you spit out.

Nutmeg Liver — If you have some sort of right sided heart failure, the blood that is supposed to be pumped into your heart from your lower body can become backed-up, causing blood to back-up into the liver, giving it a “nutmeg” appearance under the microscope.

‎Olive Mass in Congenital Pyloric Stenosis — If a newborn baby is born with a pyloric stenosis, or a narrowing of the connection between the stomach and the intestines, then you can often feel a mass in the abdomen that feels like an olive. It apparently feels like an olive, and not a marble or a gum ball.

Maple Syrup Urine Disease — Some babies are born with an inherent inability to break down branch-chained amino acids, namely valine, isoleucine, and leucine. If left untreated, the disease can lead to brain damage and death. A particularly curious characteristic about this disease is the sweet smell of the urine, reminiscent of maple syrup.

Cherry-Red Macula — In patients with Niemann-Pick disease and Tay-Sachs disease, the macula in the back of their eyes looks not just red, but cherry-red, due to its independent blood supply from the choroid artery, while the rest of the retina accumulate storage material from these diseases and become pale.

Spaghetti and Meatball Appearance — Tinea versicolor is a relatively common skin infection that causes your skin to have patches of light colored skin, due to damage of melanocytes in your skin. The culprit? Malassezia furfur, a funny-sounding fungus that can be diagnosed by its “spaghetti-and-meatball” appearance on a KOH prep.

Swiss Cheese Brain — Even if you love Swiss Cheese, you would not want to have Swiss Cheese brain, ever. Taenia Solium is a tapeworm that can be found in undercooked pork. If you accidentally eat their eggs from contaminated meats, these little monsters can go up to your brain and encyst, causing “holes” to show up on an x-ray of your brain. I love Swiss cheese, but I will never look at it the same again after taking Med Micro.

Blueberry Muffin Rash — Rubella is one of the TORCH viruses that can be passed from mother to fetus if the mother is infected. A classic triad of symptoms that you see in Rubella is patent ductus arteriosus, cataracts, and deafness. You also often see a distinct rash commonly described as blueberry muffin rash, due to the spots of extramedullary hematopoiesis found on the newborn’s skin.

If you know of any more food (or shall I say disease) descriptions, please list them on the comments section!

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