Riley Keough, Bella Hadid, and 9 Other Celebs Who've Spoken Up About Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, despite impacting roughly 476,000 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is still so misunderstood. Unfortunately, vague symptoms like severe fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, joint pain, and muscle weakness make it difficult to diagnose. Yet, disease-carrying ticks are present throughout the world — and when Lyme disease is left untreated, it can cause health issues that linger for years.

"Untreated Lyme, or cases that don't respond to treatment, can cause long-term problems, including Lyme-related arthritis, when the bacteria enter joint tissue and cause inflammation, and post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, which can cause fatigue, pain, and cognitive impairment long after treatment," Brian Fallon, MD, director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University, told POPSUGAR last year.

Educating others about the risks of Lyme disease could save them years of painful symptoms and long-term effects. So it's especially nice to see when celebrities like Riley Keough, Bella Hadid, Shania Twain, and many others who have been treated for Lyme disease use their platforms to draw attention to the condition. Check out these celebs who have all opened up about their experiences with Lyme disease.

Riley Keough
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Riley Keough

The actor hasn't talked much about her experience with Lyme disease, but she recently got vulnerable in a cover story for Vanity Fair, telling the publication, "I have Lyme disease." In fact, it's one of the primary reasons she chose surrogacy. "I can carry children, but it felt like the best choice for what I had going on physically with the autoimmune stuff," Keough explained.

The "Daisy Jones and The Six" star also told Vanity Fair that she's been using her time off to tackle some of her Lyme disease symptoms and "try and see if I can alleviate it a bit. It's a holistic treatment center and offers all kinds of things that you can't really do in America yet, like cleaning your blood." Working a public-facing job that requires so much of your body in the way that acting does hasn't been easy for Keough either. While she didn't go into much detail about the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease, Vanity Fair spoke to Sam Claflin, Keough's costar in "Daisy Jones and The Six," about how the pain affected her during production. "I'd noticed that she'd disengage in fleeting moments between scenes. The fact that she has all that underlying her day-to-day routine and is battling that on top of everything else — it's nothing short of miraculous."

Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid was 16 years old when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. The model went public about her battle against the condition on her Instagram Stories.

In February 2021, she posted a series of photos showing her hooked up to an IV. "Living with a few chronic autoimmune disease = always finding time for my IVs," she wrote in the caption.

In a 2016 interview with People, she opened up about looking healthy on the outside (and working as a model) while struggling with health issues behind closed doors. "Life isn't always what it looks like on the outside, and the hardest part of this journey is to be judged by the way you look instead of the way you feel," she shared.

More recently, she's taken a break from the runway due to a "long and intense treatment for Lyme disease," according to an Instagram Story posted by her sister Gigi Hadid. "I'm so proud of her and excited for her ✨comeback✨ whenever she feels ready 😊x," she went on to say.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo first spoke out about his experience with Lyme disease in 2017, sharing on Twitter: "Lyme disease sucks, I know." One Twitter user commented, "I'm finally treating my Lyme after more than a decade. It has altered my entire life," to which he replied, "Me too."

Now, the "Incredible Hulk" is raising awareness about Lyme disease as a hidden public health crisis by promoting a new documentary, "The Quiet Epidemic." The film looks at the hidden epidemic of Lyme disease and the US healthcare system. Ruffalo recently shared his endorsement across social media, in addition to describing his experience with Lyme disease as "brutal, persistent, and misdiagnosed."

"The Quiet Epidemic" is now available to stream on AppleTV/iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Vimeo On Demand.

Shania Twain
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Shania Twain

After being bitten by a tick while horseback riding in 2003, Shania Twain contracted Lyme disease, which caused severe nerve damage to her vocal cords. It took close to seven years to get a diagnosis for why she'd lost her voice and then two open-throat surgeries to finally sing again.

In the Netflix documentary "Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl," which was released in July 2022, Twain opened up about the initial stages of the disease during the peak of her career. "My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was gonna fall off the stage," she shared. "I was having these very, very, very millisecond blackouts, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds," and then she thought, "I'd lost my voice forever."

But her two surgeries finally provided a solution. Twain shared in a recent interview with InStyle that it took the help of her friends Gladys Knight and Lionel Richie to get up the courage to try to sing again after the operation. "After I had the surgery, I was petrified to make a sound. I didn't know what was going to come out," she told the outlet. But ultimately, she decided to give it a go. "It did scare me, but I just had to take the leap and make a sound. And I was so excited about what came out," she said. "It was a connection to the vocal cords and it came out very easily. I was really, really, really excited." Now she's back with a new album.

Yolanda Hadid

Yolanda Hadid, reality-TV star and mother to models Bella and Gigi Hadid, often refers to her Lyme disease as an "invisible disability." In 2018, after a year in remission, she discovered that her Lyme disease was active again after six years of consistent treatment. That same year, she published a memoir, titled, "Believe Me: My Battle With the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease."

In 2015, the Global Lyme Alliance presented her with the Power of One award, where she revealed that Bella and son Anwar also suffer from the disease.

"When my two youngest children, Bella and Anwar, were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in early 2012, watching my babies struggle in silence in order to support me in my journey, struck the deepest core of hopelessness inside of me," she said in her acceptance speech. "This is my token and my promise to you that I will not allow you to live a life of pain and suffering. I will walk to the end of the earth to find a cure so that you can live a healthy life that you deserve."

Avril Lavigne
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Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne shared her battle Lyme disease in a 2015 interview with People, saying she was "bedridden for five months" and sometimes didn't shower for a week at a time because she "could barely stand." She described it as "having all your life sucked out of you."

She had to take a two-year hiatus before announcing her triumphant return in a 2018 issue of Billboard magazine. But finding the right treatment that would allow her to return to music was an evolving process. "It's a bug — a spirochete," she said, referring to the bacteria the disease is rooted in. "So you take these antibiotics, and they start killing it. But it's a smart bug: It morphs into a cystic form, so you have to take other antibiotics at the same time. It went undiagnosed for so long that I was kind of f*cked."

The singer-songwriter started a foundation in her name in 2010 to support those dealing with serious illness or disability, with a specific focus on those impacted by Lyme disease.

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer announced she had Lyme disease on her Instagram account in September 2020. "Anyone get LYME this summer? I got it and I'm on doxycycline," she wrote. "I have maybe had it for years. Any advice? Can you have a glass of wine or 2 on it?" All jokes aside, she told fans, "I feel good and am excited to get rid of it."

The comedian is known for being open about her health — from sharing about her endometriosis treatment to her hair-pulling disorder — so it comes as no surprise she would be transparent about her latest symptoms.

Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller was initially diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2010 while in Nantucket, MA, but thankfully, it was detected early.

"My knee became inflamed and they couldn't figure out what it was, then they found out it was Lyme," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. "I'm symptom-free now, but Lyme doesn't ever leave your system. It's a really tough thing."

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin told People in a 2017 interview that he believed he had chronic Lyme disease when he was bitten almost two decades before. When he was bitten again a few years later, he started to experience symptoms every year.

"I got the classic Lyme disease (symptoms) for each successive summer, for five years, every August, like this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed," Baldwin said. "The first round (was the worst), and then it diminished, at least that's how I perceived it."

The first time was the worst of all. "I really thought this is it, I'm not going to live. I was alone, I wasn't married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. I was lying in bed saying, 'I'm going to die of Lyme disease' in my bed and 'I hope someone finds me and I'm not here for too long.'"

Now he and his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, are vigilant about the disease. "I want my kids to grow up riding horses and bikes and enjoying themselves every day and not have to spend every day with us going over them with a magnifying glass to make sure they don't have any ticks on their body or their dogs, but that is part of the lifestyle," he said.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber broke his silence in an Instagram post that has since been removed. "While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like sh*t, on meth etc. they failed to realize I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my, skin, brain function, energy, and overall health," he wrote, per People.

He continued, "It's been a rough couple years but getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever."

This year, he was diagnosed with facial paralysis and Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which recent studies have shown can be linked to Lyme disease.

Kelly Osbourne

In 2004, reality star Kelly Osbourne was bitten by a tick while attending her dad Ozzy Osbourne's outdoor birthday party. For a decade after, she suffered from a sore throat, stomachaches, and eventually a seizure that led to an epilepsy diagnosis.

"The doctors kept changing my prescription, trying to get the dosage right, and it turned me into a zombie," she wrote in her book excerpt published in US Weekly. "You know in movies where a mental patient sits in a rocking chair in a cardigan and nightgown and stares at a wall all day? That was me."

At her wit's end, she turned to an alternative practitioner. "I had started entering my symptoms into online quizzes, and the results kept coming back Lyme disease," she wrote, adding that for the first time, she felt someone listened to her. "I got tested. The results were positive: I had stage III neurological Lyme disease. I was relieved to finally know what was going on, but I was also scared s—tless."

From the experience, Osbourne shared some takeaways: "I've learned to advocate for myself when it comes to my health, and I trust my intuition. If I think something is wrong, I refuse to let anyone dismiss it."