Asthma currently affects about 1 in 12 Americans, and there are many well-known people who suffer from the chronic respiratory illness. Famous people with asthma include pop star Pink and star athletes Jerome Bettis and David Beckham, who all became successful despite the condition. But aside from these modern celebrities, there’s an impressive list of influential historical figures that either had or were suspected to have asthma. Read on to learn about some of history’s most famous asthma sufferers, along with insight into how the illness shaped their lives.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Beethoven is known for his hearing loss almost as much as the music he wrote. But the composer’s other illnesses have been the subject of much speculation by historians. Cirrhosis, syphilis, and lead poisoning have all been proposed as contributing to Beethoven’s ill health and death.
Among these many maladies, Beethoven also mentioned suffering from asthma and frequent respiratory illnesses in letters he wrote to friends and colleagues. Despite deafness and poor health making him increasingly reclusive with age, some of Beethoven’s most ambitious and impressive works were written near the end of his difficult life.
One of the most famous English-language authors of the modern era, Charles Dickens is often described as having asthma. This claim might be hard to definitively prove, but the presence of asthma in some of his characters could be evidence he suffered from the condition himself.
In Dombey and Son, Major Bagstock is described as having “a wheeze very like the cough of a horse”. David Copperfield’s Mr. Omer’s smokes opium to ease his asthma symptoms. Dickens’ detailed descriptions of his characters’ medical conditions inspired at least one medical breakthrough after prompting one doctor’s early clinical paper on sleep apnea.
Literature junkies love Dylan Thomas for his intense lyricism. Even people who don’t know his name are probably familiar with his most famous work, “Do not go gentle into that good night”.
The Welsh-born poet grew up with asthma and bronchitis, and struggled with both illnesses through most of his life. The “doomed poet” died at only 39, likely from severe bronchial pneumonia exacerbated by lifestyle choices and poor medical care.
Theodore Roosevelt suffered from several childhood illnesses, including asthma, that kept him mostly indoors and homeschooled throughout his early life. But an inspiration to become more physically active during his teenage years helped Roosevelt grow into an avid outdoorsman. This love of the outdoors later translated to some of Roosevelt’s presidential policies, which included protecting the environment through the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries and national forests.
Another president who suffered from asthma, Coolidge seems to have been affected by his disease in a different way that Roosevelt. Coolidge’s incredibly quiet demeanour earned him the nickname “Silent Cal”, and some historians attribute this trait to behaviors learned through childhood illnesses.
Coolidge’s presidential policies leaned towards the laissez-faire, which some critics blame for bringing about the Great Depression shortly after he left office. Whether or not his laissez-faire attitude and silent demeanour was influenced by childhood illnesses is a part of presidential history we can only speculate about.
Modern Asthma Control
Without access to today’s medicine, history’s famous people with asthma would’ve had a rough go. But now high treatment costs are likely to prevent some people with asthma from getting the medicine they need. RXConnected.com provides brand-name and generic equivalent asthma drugs at up to 80% less than local pharmacies. Click here to place an order today, and put the money you’ll save towards a pursuit inspired by one of these famous people with asthma.
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