Was Beethoven’s deafness caused by lead toxicity?

3 out of 5 stars Lead and the Deafness of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Stevens MH et al. Laryngoscope 2013 Nov;123:2854-2858. Abstract Beethoven was 27 when he first experienced tinnitus and high-frequency hearing impairment. These symptoms progressed slowly until the famous incident in 1824 when the composer, attending the first performance of his Ninth Symphony, he was not able to hear the thunderous applause that followed. The authors of this interesting article consider some previously theories proposed to explain Beethoven’s deafness, and find reasons to rule them out: Autoimmune hearing loss – While this progresses rapidly over weeks or months, Beethoven’s symptoms worsened slowly over years. Mercury toxicity from treatment for syphilis - There is no evidence that Beethoven had syphilis, and no mercury was detected in samples of his bone or hair. Otosclerosis – Arguing against this is the fact that findings consistent within this diagnosis were not documented at autopsy. The authors argue, rather, that Beethoven’s deafness was the result of chronic lead toxicity. In fact, analysis of a sample of Beethoven’s hair at the Argonne National Laboratory did demonstrate the presence of lead. Exposure might have resulted from the composer’s well-known fondness for wine, which was often contaminated with the heavy metal. This theory had been rejected in the past, because there is no evidence that Beethoven had other neurological mani...
Source: The Poison Review - Category: Toxicology Authors: Tags: Medical beethoven deafness hearing loss lead ototoxicity plumbism Source Type: news

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