Bob Dylan performs on Late Night with David Letterman in 2015
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It was back when the US singer was about to embark on the British leg of his never-ending tour that fans became concerned for his health. Soon after celebrating his 56th birthday, Dylan started to complain of chest pains. The pain became so unbearable that the singer was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with a rare condition known as histoplasmosis. With symptoms similar to tuberculosis, the star was forced to cancel his tour of the UK and stayed in hospital to receive urgent treatment.
At the time, the star’s agent Barry Dickins confirmed that the singer had been admitted to hospital in the US, and was waiting to speak to doctors about the outlook of the condition.
Dickins’ statement said: “It was his birthday at the weekend and he complained of chest pains.
“He went to hospital where he was admitted for treatment. In the 10 years I have represented him he has never complained about chest pains once.
“The infection is potentially fatal. He will remain at the hospital until his condition is stable and he has improved.”
A few weeks later, another update on Dylan’s health emerged, where the singer admitted he was in fear for his life.
A fixed statement concerned the star’s health said: “Doctors are continuing to treat him and are confident that Mr Dylan will make a full recovery in four to six weeks.”
At the time Dylan himself was reported saying: “I’m just glad to be feeling better.
“I really thought I’d be seeing Elvis soon.”
In the updated statement it was also revealed that the star’s condition had developed into a potentially serious condition known as pericarditis after first contracting histoplasmosis.
Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. Individuals can become infected after breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air.
Unusually, the condition is most often found in bird or bat droppings and puts farmers and landscapers at higher risk of the disease.
The Mayo Clinic explains that for most people with histoplasmosis symptoms never develop and people aren’t aware they’re infected.
But for some people — primarily infants and those with compromised immune systems — histoplasmosis can be serious.
When signs and symptoms occur, they usually appear three to 17 days after exposure and can include:
- Muscle aches
- Dry cough
- Chest discomfort
The most severe form of the condition – known as disseminated histoplasmosis – typically affects infants and people with compromised immune systems. It can suddenly affect any part of the body including the mouth, liver, central nervous system and skin.
One of the risk factors of the condition is known as pericarditis – the swelling and irritation of the thin sac-like tissue surrounding the heart. The Mayo Clinic explains that it is this condition that causes sharp chest pain, like Dylan suffered from.
Chest pain occurs when the irritated layers of the pericardium rub against each other, and although usually mild, symptoms of the condition can include:
- Fatigue or general feeling of weakness or being sick
- Leg swelling
- Low-grade fever
- Pounding or racing heartbeat (heart palpitations)
- Shortness of breath when lying down
- Swelling of the belly (abdomen).
The severity of symptoms depends on how long the illness will last, with the most severe form of pericarditis known as incessant pericarditis lasting about four to six weeks, with continuous symptoms.
Early diagnosis and treatment may help reduce the risk of long-term complications from pericarditis, so seeking medical advice as soon as chest pain is felt is advised.
Treatment options depend on how severe the condition is. Most commonly, pain relievers are used to help individuals cope with chest pain and other symptoms and other medication is used to tackle the inflammation.
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