Brian Johnson health: ‘Most scared I’ve ever been’ – singer’s health ordeals

ACDC performs Back In Black in River Plate

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Johnson, 74, joined the legendary rock and roll band ACDC as the new lead singer in 1980 after the death of the singer Bon Scott from alcohol poisoning. That same year, the band released the song Back In Black as a tribute to the late singer which catapulted the band to fame. But over the years the band has had several hiccups due to bad health. Johnson had a cancer scare in 2009 and suffered from hearing loss 7 years later, which caused him to walk from the band; and the founder Malcolm Young died in 2017 from dementia. After these events, as well as the departure of the band’s bassist and drummer, ACDC went inactive for several years but has recently come together for the release of the album Power Up.

The singer’s hearing loss

Despite having lost the hearing in his left ear, Johnson had no doubts about coming back to create Power Up–an album consisting of songs Malcolm Young and his little brother Angus Young had written but not produced.

“I missed the boys, and the way the boys make music. So it didn’t take much to get me. I was on board straight away.”

His return is thanks to hearing aid technology which means he can come back safely.

“We’ve pretty much got it licked with this new equipment,” he told USA Today.

In 2016, Johnson lost the hearing in his left ear, surprisingly not because of the loud music he was playing.

“I’ve got hearing loss in my left ear. I didn’t get it from music. I got it from sitting in a race car too long without earplugs.

“I heard my ear drum burst because I forgot to put my plugs in under my helmet. That’s how it happened,” he told America’s Got Talent’s Howard Stern.

The cancer scare

Before his hearing loss, the star had a serious scare after being diagnosed with Barrett’s Syndrome–which can lead to oesophagus cancer.

Talking about Barrett’s Syndrome, Johnson told a New Zealand radio station called Voxy: “It leads to cancer of the oesophagus, then they have to take the voice box out, which stopped me right in my tracks.”

What is Barrett’s Syndrome

Barrett’s syndrome is when the oesophagus–the swallowing tube connecting the mouth and stomach–is damaged by acid reflux, states the Mayo Clinic.

Before developing Barrett’s syndrome, people develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is when the oesophagus is regularly bathed in acid due to acid reflux.

Acid reflux is caused by the failure of an important valve between the oesophagus and stomach, responsible for letting food move to your oesophagus, called the lower oesophageal sphincter. This failure can occur as you get older.

The symptoms of acid reflux and GERD are heartburn and regurgitation.

But as GERD progresses, the symptoms may disappear as the person with it gets used to the discomfort, which can be “counterproductive because people seek less help”, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

‘I didn’t sleep for a week’

Johnson, who did not have oesophageal cancer, spoke about how lucky he was that the doctors found Barrett’s Syndrome early.

“I was very lucky we caught it in time. A lot of people think it’s heartburn but I knew there was something really hurting me so I went straight to the top doctor,” he said.

“I was the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t sleep for a week.”

According to the NHS, you are only “slightly more likely to get oesophageal cancer” if you have Barrett’s syndrome, and it is “not common”.

The health body has a few recommendations for how to prevent oesophegael cancer.

They recommend trying to lose weight, cutting down on alcohol, and quitting smoking as well as letting hot drinks cool down before drinking them.

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