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Eric Clapton: Rock legend unsure 'how long he will go on' due to debilitating health

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Eric Clapton has been a part of various bands over the years, starting off in the Yardbirds back in 1963 to Van Morrison in 2020. With 280 million records sold worldwide as a solo artist his success within the music industry is undeniable. But in a recent interview, the star revealed that all is not well. New and lingering health problems including deafness and peripheral neuropathy have put any future shows for the rock music star in jeopardy.

Clapton’s health decline started a few years ago. In an issue of Classic Rock magazine he revealed that he was suffering with peripheral neuropathy, a condition that occurs when nerves from the brain to the spinal cord are damaged or diseased.

The condition which can affect your arms, legs, feet and hands leads to a number of symptoms including pins and needles in the affected area of your body. Clapton described this sensation as like having “electric shocks going down your leg.”

Starting with lower back pain, the guitarist was diagnosed after an examination. He admitted that the condition makes it harder to play guitar leading to multiple shows having to be cancelled.

Peripheral neuropathy can also affect an individual’s vision, bowel movements, blood pressure and balance – potentially career ending side effects for someone who relies on playing the guitar for a living.

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In addition to peripheral neuropathy, Clapton has also honestly talked about his hearing loss. During a BBC Radio 2 interview he expressed his concerns over being “proficient.” He said: “I’m going deaf, I’ve got tinnitus, my hands just about work. It’s amazing to me I’m still here.”

His health conditions combined make it extremely difficult for him to perform. In fact he admitted that every time he plays guitar he has to start at the “bottom of the ladder,” retraining his fingers and re-tuning the instruments.

If suffering from peripheral neuropathy and hearing loss was not enough, back in May 2021 Clapton reacted extremely badly after receiving his Covid vaccine. The guitarist was jabbed with a dose of AstraZeneca jab and straight away had “severe reactions which lasted 10 days.”

It seemed that his pre-existing condition made him more susceptible to vaccine side effects. Clapton explained: “Needless to say the reactions were disastrous, my hands and feet were either frozen, numb or burning, and pretty much useless for two weeks, I feared I would never play again, (I suffer with peripheral neuropathy and should never have gone near the needle.) But the propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone.”

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His unfortunate health decline and reaction to the Covid vaccine is a worry to many fans and it is questionable whether the rock legend will ever perform a live show again. In 2017 he was pictured in a wheelchair at Los Angeles airport after cancelling his two shows. Looking pale, the guitarist managed to smile and wave at fans who were immediately concerned.

The route of his health problems may have stemmed from his previous alcohol and drug addiction. In a documentary about his life titled Eric Clapton: Life in 12 bars, the star revealed that in 1970 he spent nearly £ 11,619 ($16,000) per week on heroin. Soon replacing drugs for alcohol and leading him to a rehab facility.

Speaking of his habits he said that he drank “special brew with vodka.” But rehab allowed him to turn his life around and kick the habit for good.

Despite this, with his current health status Clapton admitted not knowing how long he can carry on. He continued to say: “I’m of an age now where I don’t know how long my faculties will go on.”

Is peripheral neuropathy curable?

The condition can result from a number of things, including traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and an exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes.

Due to this it is unlikely that an individual will ever be cured completely, as treatment for the disease involves treating the underlying cause. For example someone with diabetes has to manage their disorder in order to help improve neuropathy, or stop it from getting any worse.

Some medicines help the condition such as steroids, immunoglobulin injections and immunosuppressants as they act as either anti-inflammatory medicines or reduce the activity of the immune system. Higher doses of these medications can also be administered to help relieve nerve pain. As with any medication the risks of side effects are greater the higher dosage you take.

To improve muscle weakness that may develop due to the disease, physiotherapy is a reliable option to help stop the effects of peripheral neuropathy and a good alternative to medications.

Unlike peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss is more difficult to cure. Although there are treatments that may improve the symptoms and your overall ability to hear things.

The most common is a hearing aid. These small electronic devices are worn in your ear and make sounds louder and clearer. There are many different types according to what the individual would prefer and are fully accessible to get on the NHS after talking to your GP.

For those who cannot be helped by hearing aids, hearing implants are a better alternative. This involves fitting a special device inside the skull during an operation. Common types of implants include bone anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, auditory brainstem implants and middle ear implants.

If both of these options do not work for an individual, assistive listening devices (ALDS) are also available. These devices help to boost your hearing in everyday situations both in and outside of the home. They include the following:

  • Personal hearing loops, like neckloops, that allow you to hear music or phone calls directly through your hearing aid
  • Personal communicators (or conversation listeners): portable devices to help hear over a long distance or in noisy places
  • TV amplifiers: devices that allow you to hear sound clearly through your hearing aid without needing to turn up the volume
  • Smoke alarms appropriate for your level of hearing, such as vibrating devices.



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