Joe Swash health: “I was certain I’d die” TV star on his deadly health scare

Joe Swash health: “I was certain I’d die” TV star on his deadly health scare


Joe Swash may have started his career in the public eye as an actor, but he has since become a popular TV figure through his presenting roles and guest appearances. He is arguably best known for being part of the presenting team on the spin-off series I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, NOW! and his relationship with Stacey Solomon has also attracted much public attention. What people may not know is that Joe had a potentially life-threatening health scare back in 2005 and was rushed to hospital after his health rapidly deteriorated.


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It turned out the actor was struck down by meningitis, which, as the NHS explains, is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Meningitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, although bacterial meningitis is rarer but more serious than viral meningitis, notes the health body.

Meningitis is usually caught from people who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat but are not ill themselves, although it can also be caught from someone with meningitis, but this is less common, it explains.

Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Kissing
  • Sharing utensils, cutlery and toothbrushes

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Speaking to the News of the World at the time, Joe recounted that traumatic time: “I was certain I’d die. I knew something was wrong and it could kill me.”

The TV presenter also revealed the symptoms he experienced: “I was sure I’d suffered a stroke because my body was numb. Then the headaches started and I thought it was something much worse. I’ve never felt pain like it.

He continued: “I couldn’t feel the left side of my body. It was numb. I tried wiggling my toes and my legs. My arm felt like it was sagging, almost hanging off my body. Then I tried to move my mouth and felt sheer terror come over me – I couldn’t move my lips.

Joe initially thought he was having a stroke because the condition caused numbness, and this was accompanied by a sinking feeling that he would never work again.


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According to the health body Meningitis now, symptoms can appear in any order, although early symptoms tend to include fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet.

People may also experience a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this will not always develop.

Someone with meningitis can get a lot worse very quickly, so it is important to keep checking them advises the health site.

How to Treat meningitis

As in Joe’s case, people with suspected meningitis will usually have tests in hospital to confirm the diagnosis and check whether the condition is the result of a viral or bacterial infection, explains the NHS.


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As the NHS explains, bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week, and treatments include:

  • Antibiotics given directly into a vein
  • Fluids given directly into a vein
  • Oxygen through a face mask

Viral meningitis tends to get better on its own within seven to ten days and can often be treated at home, but getting plenty of rest and taking painkillers and anti-sickness medication can help relieve the symptoms in the meantime, notes the health side.

Although most people who treated quickly make a full recovery, in some cases, people may develop serious long-term problems.

According to the NHS, these can include:

  • Hearing loss or vision loss, which may be partial or total
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
  • Coordination, movement and balance problems
  • Loss of limbs – amputation of affected limbs is sometimes necessary

The health site added: “This is why it’s so important to get medical help as soon as possible if you think you or your child has symptoms of meningitis, and why meningitis vaccinations are offered to certain groups.”

When Joe was struck down the virus, he feared the worst: “I’ve spent half my life trying to be an actor and I work on a show that I love.”

He added: “I felt it had all slipped away because I’d now lost the most important thing you need to be an actor – the ability to talk. It was terrifying. I’ve never been that scared before.”

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