United States Presidents and Their Health

Many Americans often only see one side of their president – calm, poised, well-spoken and well-mannered. However, presidents often have ailments, mysteries and personal issues to adhere – a side not often seen by the American people. Whether it be something minor like chronic headaches or more serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes, many presidents in the United States suffered from at least some sort of health-related illness.

For example, did you know that President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was prone to emotional and physical difficulties? He suffered from failing eyesight, chronic headaches, bleeding in his lungs and much more. He even had pain from two separate instances that both involved bullet wounds. President Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) lived much of his life with obesity, nephritis and gout; while President William Taft suffered from sleep apnea (due to his large size) and high blood pressure. It wasn’t until President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was in office, that the 25th Amendment was issued stating that the vice president would resume responsibilities upon the president’s disability, resignation or death. Wilson had a multitude of health issues including headaches, hypertension and double vision. He also suffered from several strokes that left him blind in one eye and eventually paralyzed him. Though he was forced into a wheelchair, he was able to keep his paralysis a secret for some time. Though after it was discovered, the 25th Amendment was soon created.

Many other presidents suffered from a plethora of medical illnesses and diseases. Addison’s disease, polio, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Graves’ disease are just a few of the additional illnesses from which U.S. presidents writhed. Though many of these illnesses are easily treated or managed with proper care and medication, it shows that while dignified and professional on the outside you never know what our presidents are battling internally. Whether you choose to honor them all on Presidents’ Day or just a particular favorite, remember that they’ve all diligently served our country despite their internal struggles.

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