While their fame, fortune, and glamorous lifestyles might make us think they’re above it all, celebrities suffer from the same health conditions as everyone else. A diagnosis of a rare disease or condition can make you feel alone. Many celebrities have opened up about their conditions over the years and have given visibility to conditions that you might not otherwise know about. By talking about their health, celebrities can help others feel like they’re not struggling alone. Although there have been some famous faces talking about certain diseases, the chances are you probably haven’t heard about them. For whatever reason, people talking about health issues doesn’t get as much attention as it should. We decided to take a look at some of the celebrities who have come out about their diseases and conditions and shared them with the world.
25. Kristin Chenoweth
Actor Kristin Chenoweth has performed for the stage, appeared in films, and on many acclaimed TV shows. She did it all while suffering from Meniere’s disease which affects the inner ear. In addition to congestion, Kristin also suffers from hearing loss, vertigo, and tension. She told Prevention Magazine, “The hardest thing is sleeping on an incline. I can’t sleep flat, because the head position affects the inner ear. That’s been a bummer, because I had two slipped disks in my neck, and for that, I need to sleep flat. So I’m battling two different things.”
In addition to Meniere’s disease, Kristin came out recently as someone who suffers chronic pain. She wrote, “For the past six years, I’ve been living with chronic pain. It’s an invisible disease that affects my life every single day, however, I refuse to let it define who I am as a person.”
24. Gaten Matarazzo
Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo suffers from cleidocranial dysplasia. The condition results in absent collarbones, delayed loss of teeth, and delayed development of the skull. Gaten has spoken out publicly about being bullied because of the condition and has even documented his treatment on social media. He posted this photo to his Instagram and captioned it, “Those who suffer from Cleidocranial Dysplasia usually have Supernumerary teeth, which are extra teeth that grow in the gums. I’ve had several surgeries to extract these teeth from within my gums and help expose the teeth that should have already grown in considering my age. In this surgery, the team of amazing medical professionals extracted 14 supernumerary teeth and exposed six of my adult teeth.”
23. Jimmy Kimmel
Ironically, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel suffers from a mild form of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a rare sleep disorder that makes people drowsy, tired, and can even result in unexpected sleep. Jimmy described the feeling like “somebody’s gently sitting on your brain” and also said he’s fallen asleep during writer’s meetings due to the condition.
Singer and songwriter Sia suffers from Grave’s disease which affects the thyroid and leads to hyperthyroidism. Symptoms can include bulging eyes, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Sia has had to cancel performances and other appearances as a result of a fare-up.
Singer Tionne Watkins, known as “T-Boz” from TLC, suffers from sickle cell disease or SCD. The disease makes it difficult for oxygen to flow through the body and the result is anemia, fatigue, and a lot of pain. She wrote a book about her struggles with the disease called, A Sick Life: TLC ‘n Me: Stories from On and Off the Stage. In an interview, she admitted, “It’s a strong word, ‘a sick life,’ ’cause I’ve had it all. I was told I would never live past 30.”
20. Emily V. Gordon
A writer behind the film The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon was diagnosed with combined variable immunodeficiency or CVID. The disease causes a weakened immune system and requires infusions of immunoglobulin to help fight off infections. She told the Immune Deficiency Foundation, “I went from limping through life, technically being OK because I wasn’t hospitalized. That was my bar – that I didn’t need to be hospitalized. I’ve truly embraced it this past year. I’ve found support when I didn’t really know I was looking for it. I’ve learned that I’m not alone.”
19. Marianna Palka
Glow actor Marianna Palka opened up about her fight with Huntington’s Disease, a rare disease that eats away at the brain and causes dementia. She made a short film called, The Lion’s Mouth Opens about how the disease has affected her and her family.
18. Robin Roberts
Good Morning America host Robin Roberts developed myeloid dysplastic syndrome or MDS after being treated for breast cancer. MDS requires a bone marrow transplant. She became an advocate and encouraged people to donate bone marrow. She said in an ABC interview from 2018:
“Today, I will start what is known as pre-treatment -– chemotherapy in advance of a bone marrow transplant later this year. Bone marrow donors are scarce and particularly for African-American women. I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure. As you know from my recent interview with Mark Zuckerberg, organ donation is vitally important. Many people don’t realize they can be bone marrow donors. I encourage everyone to sign up on a donor registry like bethematch.org.”
Iconic singer and entertainer Cher was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Virus in the 1980s. She had to take three years off from work and even traveled to Germany for treatments. Her condition worsened to a point that she thought she might die from it. The virus is accompanied by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is characterized by bouts of sleepiness. There is no cure for the disease but Cher has managed it with various treatments.
16. Selena Gomez
Actor and singer Selena Gomez was diagnosed with the chronic illness Lupus a few years ago. The autoimmune disease makes it impossible for the body to identify healthy vs. foreign tissues and attacks itself. The diagnosis and subsequent symptoms have led the singer to cancel entire tours to focus on herself.
15. Venus Williams
Tennis superstar Venus Williams suffers from Sjögren’s syndrome which is an autoimmune disease that affects the salivary glands and tear ducts and is characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth. A large number of Americans suffer from Sjögren’s but little is known about it and there is no cure. While her symptoms are mild now, they can worsen over time and include fatigue, muscle weakness, and sleep disturbance. None of which are ideal for an athlete.
14. Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham suffers from a common disease that affects women called endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disease of the endometrium, the tissues that line the uterus’ interior. Symptoms include severe pain, issues with menstruation, cysts, scarring, and fertility issues. Mild forms of the disease can be treated with medication, but more serious cases like Lena’s require surgery.
13. Kim Kardashian
Reality TV star and mogul Kim Kardashian, whose business relies on image, has a condition that affects her skin. In 2011, Kim was diagnosed with psoriasis which is an autoimmune disease that causes rough patches of skin to form. Her doctor at the time advised her to avoid stress because anxiety was triggering her symptoms.
12. Shannen Doherty
Actor Shannen Doherty recently opened up about her cancer diagnosis. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, things did not improve and now she’s been told she has stage 4 cancer. Before battling cancer, Shannen struggled with Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disorder that causes the intestinal tract to be inflamed. Symptoms include intense pain, diarrhea, ulcers, and weight loss. Shannen has been outspoken about her struggle with the disease since learning she has it in the 90s.
11. Billy Corgan
Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan has Klippel-Trenauny Syndrome which is a rare vascular disorder that affects the skin. Symptoms include “port wine stains” or purple splotches on the skin and excess bone and tissue growth. For some, the syndrome can cause physical impairment, but Billy does not seem to be progressing to that level.
10. Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler has suffered from tinnitus since childhood. Tinnitus results in an intense ringing in the ears. Because of his condition, Gerard is hard of hearing in his right ear and he attributes his asymmetrical smile to the condition as well. Generally, tinnitus can be treated with steroids for the ear and antianxiety medication.
9. Jennifer Esposito
Actor Jennifer Esposito has Celiac disease which is triggered by the consumption of gluten. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, and memory loss. Jennifer has been open about her struggle with the disease and even opened a gluten-free bakery called Jennifer’s Way.
8. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton also suffers from Lupus. For Toni, the biggest challenge is fighting the fatigue that’s associated with the disease. She was even hospitalized in 2016 following complications. She said after she returned home, that she can’t “balance it all.”
7. Missy Elliot
Rapper Missy Elliot was diagnosed with Graves disease in 2008. Graves is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. Before her diagnosis, she would get extreme muscle fatigue and once it was so bad she nearly lost control of a car she was driving. Luckily, she’s gotten a handle on the disease, but she’ll have it for the rest of her life. There is no cure.
6. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Actor Sarah Michelle Gellar suffers from scoliosis. Scoliosis affects the spine and causes a curvature which is very uncomfortable and even painful. Sarah manages her symptoms by exercising and specifically, doing pilates. She’s been open about her scoliosis and has made a point to wear backless dresses on the red carpet to raise awareness.
5. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne is an epileptic and suffers from random seizures. He’s been hospitalized several times as a result. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that is specifically characterized by seizures, dizziness, confusion, repetitive motions, and jerky motions. In 2013, Lil Wayne suffered three back-to-back seizures. Doctors advised that he slow down his work schedule and de-stress.
4. Mike McCready
Pearl Jam musician Mike McCready also has Crohn’s disease. He was first diagnosed with the disease over 25 years ago. He jokes about needing a port-o-potty at all times and has indeed missed concerts because he needed to use one. He’s an advocate for Crohn’s sufferers and has been a member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for decades.
3. LeAnn Rimes
Country singer LeAnn Rimes got her first psoriasis flare-up when she was just 2-years-old. She had a severe case that caused red, scaley skin to form over much of her body. Luckily, she found a dermatological treatment that works for her and now has the autoimmune disorder under control.
Seal’s appearance is unmistakable. Many people recognize the scarring on his face but not many know that it’s actually from Lupus. Seal has Lupus, and the disease attacked the skin on his face causing lasting scars. Seal has a specific type of the disease called discoid lupus, which comes with intense inflammation of the skin above the neck including the face, scalp, and ears.
1. Padma Lakshmi
Model, food writer, and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has endometriosis. It took a very long time for her to get the diagnosis, however. It took 23 years for Padma to finally get the diagnosis. 23 years! Even with access to healthcare, the model could not get a diagnosis. She founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2009 to shine a spotlight on the condition. She wrote, “I didn’t want the next generation of women to go through what I went through, to feel betrayed by their own bodies or to feel alone.”
Celebrities are people too and find themselves sick just like the rest of us. Many celebrities stay quiet about their health struggles, but it’s great that a number of them are outspoken advocates for different causes. Never feel alone! If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a disease or condition and especially if it’s a rare one, go online and find support groups and other forums for you to learn more and talk to others who are in a similar position.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Kristin Chenoweth
- 2 24. Gaten Matarazzo
- 3 23. Jimmy Kimmel
- 4 22. Sia
- 5 21. T-Boz
- 6 20. Emily V. Gordon
- 7 19. Marianna Palka
- 8 18. Robin Roberts
- 9 17. Cher
- 10 16. Selena Gomez
- 11 15. Venus Williams
- 12 14. Lena Dunham
- 13 13. Kim Kardashian
- 14 12. Shannen Doherty
- 15 11. Billy Corgan
- 16 10. Gerard Butler
- 17 9. Jennifer Esposito
- 18 8. Toni Braxton
- 19 7. Missy Elliot
- 20 6. Sarah Michelle Gellar
- 21 5. Lil Wayne
- 22 4. Mike McCready
- 23 3. LeAnn Rimes
- 24 2. Seal
- 25 1. Padma Lakshmi
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