What Is Epstein-Barr? Stevie Nicks Says the Sickness Makes Her ‘so Tired’

Onstage, Stevie Nicks is a force of nature, but she shared that for years, she’s dealt with a sickness that leaves her exhausted. She was often sick early in her career, as late nights and lengthy Fleetwood Mac tours ran her ragged. Now, though, she explained that she has the Epstein-Barr virus, something that she has dealt with for years. Here’s what Epstein-Barr is and how Nicks said it makes her feel.

Stevie Nicks wears a black outfit and stands in front of a white background.
Stevie Nicks | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks got sick often in the early days of her career

Even before the demands of her role in Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was prone to getting sick often. Before she found success, Nicks’ health alarmed her parents, who felt like they were talking to an older woman on the phone, not their twenty-something daughter.

“There were times when my dad would say, ‘How long are you going to do this? You have no money, you’re not happy, you work constantly, you work at restaurants, you clean houses, you get sick very easily, you’re living in Los Angeles, you don’t have any friends — why are you doing this?’” Nicks explained, per the book Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis. 

Though she was significantly more successful after joining Fleetwood Mac, Nicks still dealt with ups and downs with her health. She was exhausted and often put her body under so much strain that she made herself sick.

How does Stevie Nicks’ sickness affect her?

Nicks explained that a doctor diagnosed her with Epstein-Barr shortly after she had her breast implants removed

“Once you have [Epstein-Barr], you have it always,” she said, per the book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams, and Rumours by Zoë Howe. “I don’t have the symptoms right now. If you get all depressed and worn out, it comes back. It has a lot to do with your state of mind.”

Epstein-Barr is a common virus that can cause symptoms such as fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and an inflamed throat.

According to the CDC, “After you get an EBV infection, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body. In some cases, the virus may reactivate. This does not always cause symptoms, but people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms if EBV reactivates.”

When the sickness flares back up in Nicks, she tries to rest as much as possible. She explained that this could sometimes impact her songwriting, particularly as she geared up to make her solo album, Trouble in Shangri-La.

“Epstein-Barr makes you so tired,” she told Q Magazine in 2001, per The Nicks Fix. “I was complaining a lot.”

The Fleetwood Mac singer got a nasty case of pneumonia 

Nicks also dealt with a terrible case of pneumonia in 2019, just after she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the second time.

“The night of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I knew before I went on stage that something was wrong with me, so I had to really pull it together,” she told Variety. “The next day I got really sick, and I ended up going into the hospital in Philadelphia for a week in ICU with double pneumonia and human metapneumovirus and asthma. Talk about your oxygen levels going down; my oxygen levels were hardly existing.”

Because of the sickness, she worries that catching the coronavirus (COVID-19) would end her career. She has been stringent with her health as a result.

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