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Health and Disease

Alice In Wonderland Syndrome : A Very Rare Neurological Disorder

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a very rare neurological disorder also known as Todd’s syndrome. The causes of this rare disease are mysterious and if you’d like to learn more about this disorder check this article out!

By Mary Mai

Published 1:08 AM EST, Sat May 1, 2021

Introduction

Alice in Wonderland syndrome, also known as dysmetropsia or Todd’s syndrome, is a neurological condition that affects the brain and causes distortions of visual perception. The term Alice In Wonderland Syndrome came from a book known as, “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland,” and was based on one of the main characters named Alice who also suffers from similar symptoms of Todd’s syndrome. AWS (Alice In Wonderland Syndrome) can cause a person to feel as though they are smaller and bigger than they actually are. This syndrome is not actually caused by hallucinations, but the ways in the brain perceives the environment around it. This syndrome highly affects how the brain understands certain things and multiple senses. As an extremely rar disorder, there is much to be learned about Alice In Wonderland Syndrome, specifically the symptoms, causes, and possible treatment. 

Symptoms Of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can affect the way a person perceives their environment and can affect most senses. This includes sight, hearing, time, sensation, and touch. However, the most common symptom is visual distortions. Micropsia, a sensation that affects the body or objects within the environment, causes size distortion. Due to Micropsia, those who suffer from AWS often see objects growing bigger and smaller when in actuality, they are not. Furthermore, they are three main categories that divide up what type of perceptual disorder ASW patients could possibly have. These categories split up into type A, type B, and type C. Type A is when the disorder is somesthetic and sensory, somesthetic referring to sensation that can occur anywhere in the body.  Type B on the other hand, affects the visual senses a lot more. For example, those who suffer from Type B Alice in Wonderland Syndrome will view certain objects as too big or too small. It can also affect how shapes appear and how far objects may appear. Finally, type C is a mixture between both types A and B which means a patient who suffers from AWS will experience both sensory disorders and visual distortions. A few common symptoms also include distorted body image, distorted perception of size, and many migraine episodes. Researchers believe that AWS is an aura, meaning it acts as a warning sensation before a migraine or epilepsy attack. Therefore, those who suffer from AWS are more likely to experience migraines and epilepsy. 

Causes Of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Researchers and scientists believe that the main causes of AWS include migraines or Epstein barr virus infections. There have been research studies that prove that some infectious diseases that cause Alice in Wonderland Syndrome are typhoid encephalopathy, mycoplasma, and Influenza A virus. AWS are definitely not caused by sight issues, hallucinations, or any sort of mental illness. There was one study that showed that 33% people who suffered from AWS have had infections and also 6% had head trauma. Other causes may include, stress, brain lesions, epilepsy, brain tumors, cough medicine, psychiatric conditions, and the use of hallucinogenic drugs. There are many risk factors that come with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Experiencing AWS can lead to migraines, infections, and genetics, meaning that someone with family history of AWS is likely to experience it as well. 

Treatment For Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Currently, there are no treatments for AWS.  If a patient suffers from symptoms like migraines, then doctors will usually suggest patients to manage by altering their daily diet and provide medication to help patients cope. However, there is no treatment or cure specifically for the Alice In Wonderland Syndrome. Medical health professionals suggest that if a child suffers from symptoms of AWS, the best course of action is lots of rest and letting it pass. It is also important to note that the symptoms of AWS are not harmful and migraines can be treatable. Doctors do not prescribe antipsychotics for Todd’s syndrome because there is no psychosis in AWS. There is also an increased risk for antipsychotics that can make a patient’s conditions even worse.

Conclusion

Those who suffer from Alice In Wonderland Syndrome have to go through various symptoms that can affect one’s lifestyle. The symptoms of Alice In Wonderland can include migraines, perceptual distortion, and size distortion. There are three types of AWS and each of them are different in their own ways. Some people with AWS suffer from visual sensing disorders while others don’t and some even have a mixture of both symptoms. Causes of this rare syndrome can include migraines and virus infections. There are also different aspects like brain tumors and cough medicine that can possibly cause Todd’s syndrome. Although there is currently no treatment or cure for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, there are various ways to cope with it. Those with symptoms of a migraine can alter diets while those who have perceptual distortions do not have treatment. There is still much left to discover about this syndrome and still many undiscovered facts about this syndrome. 

Mary Mai, Youth Medical Journal 2021

References

“Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alice-in-wonderland-syndrome#treatment.

Blom, Jan Dirk. “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Systematic Review.” Neurology. Clinical Practice, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, June 2016, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4909520/.

Holland, Kimberly. “What Is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? (AWS).” HealthLine, 17 Apr. 2019, http://www.healthline.com/health/alice-in-wonderland-syndrome#symptoms. 

By Mary Mai

Mary Mai is a student at Balboa High School in California. She is interested in fields of medical genetics, neurology, psychiatry, and pediatrics.

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