His deafness is the problem most people are familiar with. However, Beethoven had numerous, other serious medical problems beginning in his teens and plaguing him throughout his life. When he died and an autopsy was performed, in addition to complete destruction of his auditory nerves, he was found to have advanced cirrhosis of his liver, cerebral (brain) atrophy, an abnormal pancreas and diseased kidneys. Did Beethoven have one disease or many? How did his disabilities affect his work? Dr. Mackowiak will review Beethoven's medical history in detail and share his thoughts as to the answers to these questions.
The standard account of his death in his late 50s is that he developed an infection of his epiglottis (voice box), which was causing him to suffocate. His physicians treated him by removing a massive amount of blood, which likely hastened his death. Nevertheless, their treatment was the best available at the time. Dr. Mackowiak will review Washington's legacy as the father of our country and his medical history in detail. In the process, he'll take issue with the amount of blood reported to have been removed during his final illness, whether he received the best care available at the time, and suggest a diagnosis other than epiglottis.
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