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August 14, 2002

BeethovenBeethoven in Person: His Deafness, Illnesses, and Death

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Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002American Medical Association

JAMA. 2002;288(6):768. doi:10.1001/jama.288.6.768

Pathography, the retrospective study of the illnesses of historical figures, is for many physicians an interesting sideline, in which the consequences of an erroneous diagnosis may be less urgent than in contemporary practice. Historically and musically inclined physicians have frequently addressed Ludwig van Beethoven's deafness and multiple physical ailments, which have been ascribed to otosclerosis, alcoholism, syphilis, sarcoidosis, autoimmune disorder, and most recently heavy metal poisoning.

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