Eddie Izzard health: ‘I was throwing up… everything ached’ – comic feared ‘fatal’ malady

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The Make Humanity Great Again campaign involved Eddie Izzard running a daily marathon and performing a stand-up set each night for 31 consecutive days. The challenge did, however, cause an issue. In a clip shared to Instagram, the stand-up comic, 59, revealed the had damaged her feet and legs in the process. Yet, her daring feat has lead to minimal damage compared to the time when she ran 27 marathons in 27 days for Sport Relief.

Making her way across the blistering heat of South Africa, Eddie revealed how the charity run led to “a few pretty dark moments”.

“I wasn’t reacting terribly well to the heat,” she stated. “I was throwing up… everything ached.

“I had back spasms,” she continued, adding details about her “awful sunburn”.

Eddie explained: “I lost about four layers of skin – and I was suffering with extreme heat exhaustion.

“They were worried it was rhabdomyolysis, which is basically the breakdown of your muscle into your bloodstream – and [it] can be fatal.

“So then I feared I wouldn’t be able to run any more and that was awful.”

Heat exhaustion

The NHS highlight the important of cooling down “within 30 minutes” to prevent heat exhaustion turning into heatstroke, which is an emergency.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

  • A headache
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • Fast breathing or pulse
  • A high temperature of 38C or above
  • Being very thirsty.

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To cool down, it’s helpful to seek shelter in a cool place, lie down with the legs slightly raised, and to rehydrate with water.

In order to cool the skin, use a spray or sponge with cool water and use a fan.

Cold packs placed under the armpits or on the neck are also a good way to cool down the skin.

Signs of heatstroke – when heat exhaustion continues after 30 minutes – requires a call to 999.

Signs of heatstroke

  • Feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • Not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • A high temperature of 40C or above
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling confused
  • A fit (seizure)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Not responsive.


The Cleveland Clinic explained that rhabdomyolysis “can be a life-threatening” condition caused by muscle breakdown and muscle death.

As muscles cells disintegrate – which can be caused from overexertion – they release a protein called myoglobin in the blood.

In large quantities, myoglobin can damage the kidneys – the organs responsible for detoxifying the blood.

If the kidneys are unable to remove large quantities of myoglobin, kidney failure and death can follow.

Certain people are more at risk of developing rhabdomyolysis, including:

  • Endurance athletes
  • Firefighters
  • Service members
  • Older people.

Symptoms include: muscle swelling; weak, tender, and sore muscles; dark urine that is brown, red, or tea-coloured.

Eddie Izzard will star as a celebrity guest on Lee Mack’s Road to Soccer Aid, airing on Wednesday, September 1 at 9pm, ITV.

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