Image Source: Getty / Robin L Marshall
Ashton Kutcher is giving more details on his experience with vasculitis, a rare condition that the actor said affected his ability to hear, see, and walk.
The condition has also made red carpet appearances particularly more difficult, Kutcher explained on an episode of the "Chicks in the Office" podcast. While promoting his upcoming movie with Reese Witherspoon, "Your Place or Mine," Kutcher was criticised for looking awkward and standoffish — which he attributes to the aftereffects of vasculitis.
"I can't hear very well; I'm hard of hearing in one ear, and I can only hear in the other," he said during the podcast. "I don't know who's yelling my name, but I know there's a lot of people yelling, 'Reese! Ashton! Over here! Look this way!' And at a certain point, you're like, 'God, this is really something. Look at the camera? Got it. Are we done? Awesome.'"
This isn't the first time Kutcher has opened up about his condition. In a trailer for the Paramount+ docuseries "The Checkup With Dr. David Agus," Kutcher reflects on the progression of his health scare. At first, "I was unable to walk," he says, adding he suddenly couldn't see either.
"When you have this face-to-face with death, you instantly lock in to what are you doing with today," he later says. "The Checkup" features in-depth conversations about health between David Agus, MD — a physician and the author of "A Short Guide to a Long Life" — and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, Howie Mandel, Amy Schumer, Nick Cannon, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.
Kutcher first referenced his vasculitis diagnosis in a sneak peek of his appearance on National Geographic's "Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge." "Two years ago, I had this weird, super-rare form of vasculitis that like knocked out my vision, it knocked out my hearing, it knocked out like all my equilibrium," Kutcher says in the clip, which was shared exclusively with "Access Hollywood."
During the episode, Kutcher tells host and survivalist Bear Grylls it took him "about a year" to recover.
Vasculitis is a rare but serious group of conditions that cause blood vessel inflammation. Due to this inflammation, the blood vessel walls can thicken, reducing blood flow, and causing organ or tissue damage, according to Mayo Clinic
There are many types of vasculitis and the condition can be short-term or chronic, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. In general, the American College of Rheumatology reports that vasculitis can affect people of all genders and ages — but certain forms of the condition affect specific populations. For example, Kawasaki disease, a type of vasculitis, occurs only in children.
Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, weight loss, and pains. And as Kutcher experienced, the Mayo Clinic reports that the effects of the condition can extend to the ears (including dizziness and sudden hearing loss) and include temporary or permanent blindness and weakness in the hands and feet.
It's not well understood what causes the condition, although genetic factors, immune system disorders, and drug reactions are among the factors that could contribute to it, the Mayo Clinic notes. The treatment for vasculitis depends on the type and the severity, as well as which organs are affected. It may require medication. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are most commonly prescribed to help control inflammation caused by the condition, reports the Mayo Clinic. But it sometimes requires surgery.
Saying he's "lucky to be alive," Kutcher appears to be on the mend while hiking with Grylls in the clip. "You don't really appreciate it until it's gone," Kutcher said. "Until you go, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to see again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to hear again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to walk again'."
— Additional reporting by Alexis Jones