Two hundred and fifty years have passed since the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the enigma about his hearing loss and overall health status seems to be not completely solved. However, the admission to the hospital of a 64-year-old woman in 2018 with symptoms extremely similar to those experienced by the great composer may add further evidence to a theory previously underestimated. The health issues of the modern patient were found to be due to chronic lead intoxication. The lead was released during daily cooking using a ceramic-coated frying pan with worn surface that poisoned her breakfast most probably for years. Abdominal pain, asthenia, and hearing loss affecting the high frequencies with a many impact on speech intelligibility tormented the patient, as they had Beethoven. An extensive review of the music and medical literature was performed, as well as re-examination of manuscripts, correspondence, and autopsy reports of the famous composer; and great similarities have been found. The soundness of the most-cited classical theories about Beethoven's hearing loss will be discussed. After close scrutiny of the theories, our analysis points toward a progressive sensorineural hearing loss due to lead intoxication as the most probable cause of not only Beethoven's hypoacusis but his overall health status as well. Laryngoscope, 2020.

A Modern Case Sheds Light on a Classical Enigma: Beethoven's Deafness

Brotto, Davide;Sorrentino, Flavia;Gheller, Flavia;Trevisi, Patrizia;Bovo, Roberto
2020

Abstract

Two hundred and fifty years have passed since the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the enigma about his hearing loss and overall health status seems to be not completely solved. However, the admission to the hospital of a 64-year-old woman in 2018 with symptoms extremely similar to those experienced by the great composer may add further evidence to a theory previously underestimated. The health issues of the modern patient were found to be due to chronic lead intoxication. The lead was released during daily cooking using a ceramic-coated frying pan with worn surface that poisoned her breakfast most probably for years. Abdominal pain, asthenia, and hearing loss affecting the high frequencies with a many impact on speech intelligibility tormented the patient, as they had Beethoven. An extensive review of the music and medical literature was performed, as well as re-examination of manuscripts, correspondence, and autopsy reports of the famous composer; and great similarities have been found. The soundness of the most-cited classical theories about Beethoven's hearing loss will be discussed. After close scrutiny of the theories, our analysis points toward a progressive sensorineural hearing loss due to lead intoxication as the most probable cause of not only Beethoven's hypoacusis but his overall health status as well. Laryngoscope, 2020.
2020
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3324843
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