A chronic illness is a long-term medical condition that requires treatment and management over a long period of time, usually years. Some of them are well known, like arthritis and diabetes, but there are a whole host of others which have been given more attention in recent years because a celebrity has publicly disclosed having it. Take Lady Gaga, for example, who disclosed a few years back that she has a condition called fibromyalgia.
While it's up to any individual what they want to share about their health, there's no denying that especially for the lesser-known conditions, having someone talking about it frankly and publicly can raise awareness, lessen stigma, and be a supportive force to fans who may be struggling with something. Here are some celebrities who have publicly spoken about their chronic health conditions, from endometriosis to lupus.
Lady Gaga: Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body, and someone suffering with it may also experience extreme tiredness, muscle stiffness, trouble concentrating and problems sleeping. According to the NHS, it tends to affect women seven times more than men. There is no cure but symptoms can be relieved through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Lady Gaga opened up about her experience with the illness for the first time in her 2017 Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two. She was also forced to cancel a concert in Brazil because she was taken to hospital with "severe pain."ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Kim Kardashian-West: Psoriasis
Awareness was definitely raised about psoriasis when it was revealed one of the most photographed women in the world has it. After initially freaking out over the the skin condition—which causes crusty, red patches with silver-type flakes to appear—in an old episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kim Kardashian has since adopted a more serene approach, saying she doesn't even try to cover it up anymore. "I'm always hoping for a cure, of course. But in the meantime, I'm learning to just accept it as part of who I am," Kim wrote on her website.
Gigi Hadid: Hashimoto's disease
This condition is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis and is a thyroid disease which can cause difficulty concentrating, hair loss, fatigue, and weight gain. Gigi has previously said that the disease actually meant she struggled to put weight on. "My metabolism actually changed like crazy this year," she told Elle in 2016. "I have Hashimoto's disease. It's a thyroid disease, and it's now been two years since taking the medication for it, so for the VS show I didn't want to lose any more weight."CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓watch now
Lena Dunham: Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a poorly understood medical condition where the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body, most often the ovaries. Lena Dunham has been particularly honest about her experience with the condition, which like so many other sufferers, was misdiagnosed for years.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan UK as part of her March 2020 cover interview, the Girls creator said: "Having endometriosis has had a really interesting effect on my relationship with my body. Pain does not inherently make you feel sexy; pain doesn't make you feel beautiful, but in another way it's forced me to really take ownership of my body and express my needs."
Lena has undergone a total hysterectomy as a result of complications from endometriosis, which came as a difficult thing to accept, because she "never had any doubt that I wanted to be a mother." But after riding the waves of this loss, Lena says she's arrived at a place of acceptance—and even positivity—about how infertility has transformed her approach to dating."I'm no longer relying on any male partner to make motherhood possible for me," she shared.ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Sia: Graves' Disease
Sia is renowned for keeping much of her life private, but despite that she has publicly confirmed that she suffers from thyroid condition Graves' disease. Back in 2010, the singer/songwriter posted on Twitter about her diagnosis, saying: "I'm not crazy! I have Graves' disease! The shakes, the nerves. THE CRAZY!! Goodbye thyroid. I will kill you with radioactivity."
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid, because your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make more of the hormone than your body needs. The condition can cause shaky hands, a fast and an irregular heartbeat, irritability or nervousness, tiredness, and muscle weakness.
Daisy Ridley: Endometriosis
Star Wars actress Daisy has also publicly shared her struggle with endometriosis and PCOS. Writing about the repercussions it's had on her life in an Instagram post a few years back, Daisy said: "Eight years [after being diagnosed], pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST. I've tried everything: products, antibiotics, more products, more antibiotics) and all that did was left my body in a bit of a mess.
Finally found out I have polycystic ovaries and that's why it's bad. I can safely say feeling so self conscious has left my confidence in tatters. I hate wearing make up but I currently don't want to leave the house without it on. HOWEVER PROGRESS IS BEING MADE!
My point is, to any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don't worry about sounding like a hypochondriac. From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours our working in tip top condition, and take help if it's needed."ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Nick Jonas: Diabetes
This Jonas brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 13 years old which he described as "one of the most frightening moments of my life." Type 1 only accounts for around 10 percent of all people who have diabetes. It is an autoimmune disorder, which is not caused by lifestyle factors. Jonas wears an insulin pump to treat his condition and set up a diabetes charity in 2015.
Sarah Hyland: Kidney Dysplasia
Kidney dysplasia is a condition from birth where the kidneys have not developed properly when the baby was in the womb. The Modern Family star told Seventeen in 2015: "I was born with so many health issues that doctors told my mother I would never have a normal life. And she said, 'You're right, she won't—but it won't be because of her health." Sarah had a kidney transplant in 2012 at the age of 21 which was donated from her father. In 2017, she hit back at people criticising her for losing weight on social media, telling them it was because of her health issues.
Venus Williams: Sjogren's syndrome
Despite being a tennis superstar, Venus Williams revealed she had the autoimmune syndrome Sjogren's in 2011. The condition affects the parts of the body that produce fluids like tears and spit, often leaving sufferers experiencing dry eyes, dry mouth, tiredness, and joint pain. The condition forced the athlete to drop out of the US open in 2011. However, she soon returned to the sport and has since been a runner up at Wimbledon.ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Bella Hadid: Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is caused by a bite from a tick. When it is not detected early it can cause long-lasting symptoms like pain in the joints, problems affecting the nervous system, extreme fatigue, and heart problems. Bella's mother Yolanda, who also has the disease, revealed her daughter had it in 2015. The model later told Porter magazine it once got so bad she couldn't get out of bed for six days.
Asthma affects an estimated 262 million people worldwide, and singer Pink is one of them. She has sporadically spoken about the condition—which sees the air passages in the lungs become narrow due to inflammation and tightened muscles—and that has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
Posting on Instagram in 2020, when masks were introduced as a cautionary measure to reduce the spread of the virus, Pink wrote: "I have asthma and I'm wearing TWO masks! I'm breathing fine and I'm not a selfish idiot! WEAR A MASK. IT'S NOT THAT HARD."
Singer Halsey is one of many women who suffer from endometriosis. Speaking about it on Twitter a few years back, she shared how she felt about the diagnosis: "Finding out that I had [endometriosis] was the most bittersweet moment because it meant I wasn't crazy! I wasn't a 'baby!' I had every right to be feeling like the world was caving in. But it was terrifying to find out." "Please know you're not alone," she told fans going through the same thing.ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Michael J Fox: Parkinson's
The Back To The Future actor discovered he had Parkinson's, an illness traditionally associated with older people, when he was 29 in 1991. Parkinson's is a condition where the brain becomes increasingly damaged and is characterised by shaking. A few years ago, he told Haute Living: "I was diagnosed 25 years ago, and I was only supposed to work for another 10 years. I was supposed to be pretty much disabled by now. I'm far from it. This is as bad as I get, and I can still go to the store and go marketing."
Selena Gomez: Lupus
In 2015, Selena Gomez revealed she had been diagnosed with lupus—an autoimmune condition which causes rashes, fatigue, and joint pain—which she underwent chemotherapy for.
She spoke out after some wrongly suggested she had an addiction, telling Billboard: "That's what my break was really about. I could've had a stroke. I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're assholes.'"
The complications from lupus continued for Selena with her eventually needing a kidney transplant, which she got from her friend Francia Raisa in 2017.
Selma Blair: MS
MS is a condition which affects the brain and often spinal cord. The condition manifests in problems with vision, arm or leg movement, and balance, says the NHS. Cruel Intentions star Selma Blair revealed via an Instagram post in October 2018 that she suffers from the chronic disease.ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
"I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS," Selma wrote in her post. "But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don't know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best," she added. Since then, she has appeared out in public numerous times with her cane, including on the Oscar's red carpet.
Lil Wayne: Epilepsy
The rapper suffers from epilepsy, a condition which affects the brain and is mostly known for causing fits or seizures. In 2013, Weezy told Power 106 radio he was epileptic and prone to seizures: "This isn't my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh seizure. I've had a bunch of seizures; y'all just never hear about it." He has since been in and out of hospital due to fits, and has on occasion had to cancel a show after having multiple fits and ending up in hospital, reports TMZ.
Sam Faiers: Crohn's
Crohn's is a condition which causes the digestive system to become inflamed. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, and unintended weight loss. Although the condition can go into remission, in some cases, the symptoms become so severe it can lead to surgery and the person using an ileostomy bag.
Mummy Diaries star Sam Faiers was diagnosed with the disease shortly after becoming ill on Celebrity Big Brother in 2014. "Effectively my body went into shut down and I only just managed to make it to the end [of Big Brother]," Sam told BT, "I'd be crying with the pain, violently ill after eating anything, with boils on my face, no energy, and such terrible joint pain in my ankles I could barely walk."ADVERTISMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW ↓
Halle Berry: Diabetes
One thing fans might not know about Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry is that she has type 1 diabetes. The chronic illness means that your body cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin, which controls blood glucose, and so your blood sugar levels can become too high.
After being diagnosed with diabetes in her early 20s, when she fell into a diabetic coma while filming the television series Living Dolls, Halle has managed it ever since. Sufferers of type 1 diabetes have to ensure they inject insulin regularly, but she hasn't let this long-term commitment hold her back from success in the acting world.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the condition has meant Halle Berry is more vulnerable than others. "I do feel at risk," she said during an interview with Variety. "I'm very strict about quarantining and who is in my bubble. We have a whole section of the house: When you go out in the world and buy something, it has to sit in this purgatory."
Charlie Sheen: HIV
The Two And A Half Men publicly revealed his HIV positive status in an interview on the Today show in 2015 after gossip websites and tabloids suggested an A-list actor was going to make an announcement about having the disease.
"It's a hard three letters to absorb. It's a turning point in one's life," he said. The actor said he was going public with his disease to end the blackmailing and extortion he had been subject to over his HIV status.
HIV damages the cells in the immune system, meaning it is difficult for someone infected to fight off infections and diseases. There is currently no cure but medication allows someone with the condition to live a normal and healthy life.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.