Theo Paphitis, 59, is a towering figure in the world of business. He has made waves in the retail sector, owning stationery chain Ryman, the homewares specialist Robert Dyas and lingerie retailer Boux Avenue. His business acumen made him a welcome addition to the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den. In a rare departure from the world of business, the Dragons’ Den star revealed a “horrendous” inner ear infection made him fear for his life.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the business mogul revealed he was “floored” by labyrinthitis a couple of months back. Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection.
According to the NHS: “It causes a delicate structure deep inside your ear called the labyrinth to become inflamed, which affects your hearing and balance.”
The inner ear infection may cause the following symptoms:
- The feeling that a person or their surroundings are moving or spinning (vertigo)
- Feeling or being sick
- Some hearing loss
“These symptoms can vary in severity, with some people feeling that they cannot stand upright,” explained the NHS.
Other symptoms of labyrinthitis may include:
- Mild headaches
- Ringing or humming in a person’s ear(s) (tinnitus)
- Fluid or pus leaking out of a person’s ear(s)
- Ear pain
- Changes in vision, such as blurred vision or double vision
I thought I was dying
The symptoms of labyrinthitis can be quite severe during the first week, but usually get better after a few weeks, noted the health body.
In some cases, the symptoms can last longer and have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to carry out everyday tasks.
Phaphitis experienced first-hand how debilitating the infection can be.
He said: “I had the most horrendous thing and I thought I was dying.
“It was so bad if you had said, ‘I am going to make you better, give me all your money’ I would have given you all my money.
“It knocked me out for a week.”
The condition forced him to take time off work: “I didn’t have any choice,” he said.
How to treat it
As the NHS explained, the symptoms of labyrinthitis usually subside within a few weeks.
“Treatment involves drinking plenty of fluid to avoid becoming dehydrated, bed rest, and medication to help you cope better with the symptoms,” explained the health site.
Labyrinthitis is usually caused by a viral infection, in which case antibiotics will not help. But a person will be offered antibiotics if their doctor thinks their infection is bacterial, said the health body.
If the symptoms persist past three weeks, a person may need to be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
Phaphitis’ wife proved instrumental in his recovery.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he quipped: “I said, ‘Do you realise how poorly I am?’ and she said, ‘Yeah’ and took me to a garden centre. After that I was pleased to go back to work.”
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