While a guest on Paramount+’s The Checkup with Dr. David Agus, actor Ashton Kutcher shared more details about his battle with a rare disorder that took away his hearing, vision, and ability to walk.
As Kutcher admitted the illness came on suddenly. “I woke up one day and was having vision issues [and] could hardly see,” Kutcher told CBS News medical contributor, Dr. David Agus. “[It] knocked out my hearing, which threw off my equilibrium, my balance and I couldn’t walk.”
Kutcher admitted that the sudden on slot of symptoms was jarring. “There’s a standard you become accustomed to in your life, like being able to see clearly. And then suddenly, you can’t see.”
Ashton Kutcher was eventually diagnosed with a “weird, super-rare form of vasculitis.”
“You don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone until you go, ‘I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to see again; I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to hear again; I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to walk again,’” Kutcher says in an episode of National Geographic’s Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge.
Ashton Kutcher Shares How He Battled Rare Form Of Vasculitis That Took Away His Hearing, Vision, And Ability To Walk
A clip of the episode was first published by Access Hollywood. The That ’70s Show star said it took him about a year to recover. “You want to reclaim the health that you once had,” Kutcher said.
“Lucky to be alive,” Kutcher said earlier. Vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels, which includes any arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart and other organs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Essentially, it is an umbrella term that includes about 20 diseases such as Cogan’s syndrome, Kawasaki disease, and giant cell arteritis that all trigger inflammation in the vessels that can decrease blood flow to tissues throughout the body.
Kutcher did not clarify which disease it was but most are considered rare, particularly the cases that cause blindness and deafness.
And while the disease affects men and women equally, and can develop in people of all ages, cases mostly affect older adults, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
Still, the causes of vasculitis are not well understood.
In some cases, vasculitis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that for unknown reasons tricks the immune system into attacking its own healthy blood vessels.
The disease may also come about as a response to certain medications like penicillin or infections with the hepatitis C or hepatitis B viruses, for example, the Arthritis Foundation says.
Vasculitis can also occur alongside cancers or other diseases such as leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or Sjögren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder that causes dry eyes and mouth).
Because there are so many different types of vasculitis, its symptoms vary widely, as well as its severity and duration. Some people experience vasculitis once or several times a year, with symptoms developing either slowly over months or rapidly over days to weeks.
Common symptoms are not much different from many other illnesses out there, including fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, muscle aches, and weight loss. Over time, the inflammation can affect most organs and systems in the body, such as the skin, lungs, GI tract, sinuses, eyes, joints, brain, and nerves.
In severe cases, the disease can cause organ damage or death by blocking blood vessels entirely, causing tissue damage called necrosis, blood clots, or bulging of the vessels called an aneurysm. If a vessel ruptures, internal bleeding, stroke, or death may follow.
Kutcher did not elaborate on how long his symptoms lasted or what kind of treatment he received, he did share how his experience with the disease gave him some perspective on life.
“The minute you start seeing your obstacles as things that are made for you to give you what you need, then life starts to get fun,” Kutcher says in the clip. “You start surfing on top of your problems instead of living underneath them.”
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