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Avicii: What we know about his health issues leading up to his death

by 
author image Leah Groth
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.
Avicii: What we know about his health issues leading up to his death
Avicii, whose health struggles included acute pancreatitis, died on April 20 at the age of 28. Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Entertainment/GettyImages

After years of health problems, including acute pancreatitis, Swedish DJ Avicii passed away last week at the age of 28.

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“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” publicist Diana Baron said in a statement. “He was found dead in Muscat, Oman, this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. The family is devastated, and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given.”

While his cause of death hasn’t been announced and his autopsy revealed nothing suspicious, much emphasis is being placed on his longtime health struggles. The Stockholm native was a heavy drinker and was hospitalized for 11 days with acute pancreatitis in January 2012 after developing what he referred to as “like, searing” abdominal pains. But the “Wake Me Up Star” continued drinking after that, though explained to GQ that he had cut back and wasn’t drinking “two days in a row.”

In March 2013 he was hospitalized again, rejecting the advice of doctors to have his gallbladder removed. After this health crisis, he finally decided to quit drinking, but his health continued to worsen. In March 2014 Avicii was hospitalized with a blocked gallbladder and ruptured appendix, requiring both to be removed.

Despite his health woes, he continued working, releasing new material and playing shows. “I took a month off, but it wasn’t really a month off,” he revealed to Billboard. “I was in the studio 12 hours a day and then went right back to touring. It’s hard to say no in this industry. You want to play everything and be everywhere.” That September he was forced to cancel an upcoming tour to heal properly. “Since my operation, I’d just been going and going,” he said after the cancellations were announced. “I was dropping weight. I needed to take a break.”

After releasing an EP and full-length album in 2015, he finally decided to retire and take some time to focus on himself and his health, playing his last show in August 2016. “To me it was something I had to do for my health. The scene was not for me,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016 about retiring at 26. “It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me. All the other parts of being an artist. I’m more of an introverted person in general. It was always very hard for me. I took on board too much negative energy, I think.” Little is known about his health from that time on, which is perhaps why Bergling’s death on April 20 was so startling to the world.

So what is acute pancreatitis? According to WebMD, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis appears suddenly and lasts for several days, while chronic pancreatitis continues for several years.

What causes it? “Excessive drinking is linked to pancreatitis and can occur in young men, although pancreatitis occurs more often in the elderly,” explains Taz Bhatia, M.D., author of “Super Woman RX.” According to Bhatia, common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, while complications can include gallstones, cardiac instability, blood in stools and electrolyte disturbances. Mild cases can go away on their own, but severe cases can have life-threatening complications.

She says that Avicii was rather young to suffer from pancreatitis, but explains that “if he had issues with alcohol, then he was at higher risk.” But did it directly lead to his death? Bhatia maintains that only around 3 percent of cases of pancreatitis result in death, so the odds are not likely. Regardless, his health struggles shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering many of them could probably have been avoided.

If you are struggling with a substance-abuse problem or think you may be suffering from any alcohol-related health issues, you should contact your physician immediately. You can also contact SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) for help 24/7, 365 days a year.

Our thoughts are with Avicii’s family and loved ones.

What Do YOU Think?

Were you surprised about DJ Avicii’s sudden death? Do you think it was related to his acute pancreatitis? Would you continue drinking if your health was negatively impacted by it?

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