Larry Lamb: ‘I felt like I was dying’ – actor recalls ‘hellish’ illness that left him deaf

Larry Lamb discusses losing his brother to cancer

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After spending lockdown alone in his second home in Normandy, Lamb felt reflective, saying in an interview with The Telegraph that he felt “lucky” to have avoided getting COVID-19, but sadly for the star, dealing with death is something he had become accustomed to back in 2019. Spending most of his year in a hospice in Newcastle, the actor was spending time with his younger brother Wesley who was nearing the end of a battle with cancer, which had first developed in the throat and then the tongue. “Him dying sort of drew us back together,” Lamb said. “And it certainly made it easier for me to deal with death, watching it happen, and understanding what it must be like to go through that yourself.”

Before losing some of his close relatives and friends, Lamb looked at his own life, and came to the following conclusion: “I realised I have a big life, it’s just behind me, and I don’t know how much of a life I have in front. Every day gets more precious.”

Although the star doesn’t have any major health ailments, in the past he has revealed that he suffers with “creaking and groaning” in his knees, long standing back ache caused by his years as an amateur builder, and hearing loss as a result a debilitating fever.

Speaking to the Daily Mail a few years ago, Lamb revealed a revolutionary product that he has used religiously to keep his machine joints at bay.

Along with half-an-hour of daily stomach crunches to ensure his core was taught to relieve any strain on his back, the star started to use a supplement containing rose hip oil to help tackle the twinges and burning sensations surging through his knees and hips.

“It has changed my life. I have to say, it’s just incredible,” Lamb said.

WebMD explains that the rose hip is the part of the rose flower just below the petals that contains the rose plant seeds. In the past it has been used to treat osteoarthritis and is also a good source of vitamin C.

In one survey of the public it was found that 90 percent of people suffering back pain rely on paracetamol to ease their agony.

And with around 26 million people across the UK suffering with back pain, these statistics have prompted experts to call for a change in the advice given, to consider whether it is appropriate to recommend paracetamol as a treatment for back pain.

Finding a successful treatment to deal with his back pain, sadly the same cannot be said for his hearing loss, which occurred after the actor took a trip to Senegal to publicise the plight of some of the world’s poorest children.

However, shortly after returning home, Lamb went down with a debilitating fever. Lasting for months, the infection soon reached his ears and as a result caused complete deafness in one of them.

“It’s been catastrophic,” Lamb said when speaking about his ordeal. “I’m famous for never being ill. But I went into complete physical meltdown.

“At one point I felt like I was dying. But the real shock was when I realised I couldn’t hear properly.”

Looking back on his trip, it became clear that the infection and subsequent hearing loss may have been caused by malaria – a mosquito-borne infectious disease that causes fever, tiredness and headaches – after the star was recommended to take a course of anti-malaria tablets.

“We were in and out within a week. Back home in north London I felt fine, so stopped taking the Malarone pills. I’d been told I should take them for eight days after leaving Senegal, but didn’t understand why as I was completely well,” Lamb continued to explain.

“But about three days later I began to feel ill. It was like the worst hangover I’d ever had. For a few days I had a fever which caused me to sweat and then cool again. I couldn’t sleep – I didn’t have the strength to do anything.”

After a horrendous stay in hospital where the star “felt as if [he] could die,” Lamb became aware of some strange noises in his right ear. “I’d never had any hearing problems and suddenly had really bad tinnitus, as if someone had hit me on the head,” he added.

Following on from treatment, which had failed to cure his hearing loss, Lamb was told by doctors to “deal” with the condition, but this was easier said than done as it put strain on his career.

Lamb recalled: “It was hellish. If I was sitting with two or three friends, it was impossible to follow the conversation. I suddenly understood why people with hearing loss can become isolated. It was such a strain that I couldn’t always be bothered to keep asking people to repeat themselves. It’s easier to tune out, so that’s what you do.”

After further tests, Lamb was diagnosed with hearing loss in his right ear and mild loss in his left. Doctors explained that the star had suffered the same kind of hearing damage which occurs with ageing, except “more suddenly and profoundly,” leaving him dependent on a hearing aid.

Audiologist Colin Campbell, who treated Lamb at a local Specsavers explained that malarial infection can damage the hair cells in the inner ear – these send electrical signals to the cochlear nerve. And the degree of hearing loss relates to the number of hair cells damaged.
Common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Listening to music or watching TV with the volume higher than other people need
  • Difficulty hearing on the phone
  • Finding it hard to keep up with a conversation
  • Feeling tired or stressed from having to concentrate while listening.

However, hearing aids and implants can greatly help individuals by reducing the impact hearing loss has on their lives. For Lamb, technological advances to help with hearing loss have meant he can continue to act and live relatively undisturbed.

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