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The Secret Illnesses of 10 U.S. Presidents


There has been a lot of talk surrounding Hilary Clinton’s health, especially after she fainted at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony due to the heat. She was also diagnosed with pneumonia 2 days beforehand so that led to even more speculation of whether or not she is fit for the presidency.

While the public should be made aware of a candidate’s health history, it would not be the first time someone with health problems became president. In fact, there have been many presidents who suffered a secret illness, including one who is considered to be one of the greatest! Check out the complete list below.

1. Andrew Jackson

When Andrew Jackson became president in 1829, he was 62-years-old and not in the best condition. His wife had just recently died from a heart attack so he wasn’t all there emotionally and he was also suffering from some physical maladies. Apparently, while in office, his teeth were rotting, his eyesight was failing, and he had chronic headaches.

secret illness

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On top of that, former President Jackson still had pain in his two gunshot wounds he sustained during duels, had an internal infection, and bleeding in his lungs. Poor guy.

2. Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland is the only president to have served two non-consecutive terms. First in 1885 and then again, in 1893. During both presidencies, though, he dealt with a lot of health problems, including  obesity, gout, and inflamed kidneys. Then in the first year of his second term, the former president discovered a tumor in his mouth and while it wasn’t cancerous, he still wanted it removed.

secret illness

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Cleveland had a secret surgery done in July to remove part of his jaw and hard palate, which left his mouth slightly disfigured.

3. William Taft

Our 27th president weighed over 300 pounds and is still the fattest president we have had in history. William Taft’s morbid obesity caused some health problems and although he tried aggressive dieting, he would still gain back what he lost. Being overweight caused him to have sleep apnea, heart problems, and high blood pressure.

secret illness

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Because of his sleeping disorder, he was known to always be tired and would even fall asleep during meetings!

4. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson was used as a prime example when congress decided to make a 25th amendment that stated the vice president will take power upon the president’s death, resignation, or disability. In his last term as president, Wilson suffered from a series of strokes that caused him to be paralyzed. First, it affected his right hand, then he went blind in one eye, and eventually had to be wheelchaired after his entire left side became paralyzed.

secret illness

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Wilson hid his disability from the public for quite some time before eventually, it became fairly obvious.

5. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Now this is a story most people are aware of considering he was considered to be one of the greatest presidents in history. When he was 39-years-old, Franklin D. Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. That never stopped him from being a great politician and he is the only president in history to be in the oval office for 4 consecutive terms.

secret illness

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FDR did, however, try to hide his disease from the public as much as possible and because of this, there aren’t very many photos of him in a wheelchair or video clips of him walking with aids.

6. John F. Kennedy

Most of what we know about John F. Kennedy is that he was the youngest elected president and that he was assassinated in Texas. What is not very known is that in 1947, the 30-year-old was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a rare endocrine disorder that could be life threatening. The disease affected his adrenal glands and caused him chronic back pain.

secret illness

Healthline.com

JFK kept his diagnosis a secret and it didn’t come out until years later after his tragic death in 1963.

7. Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, he was the oldest candidate at age 69, making people doubt that he was competent to run the nation. He had a lot of health problems, including frequent urinary tract infections and arthritis. He also had many surgeries done such as the removal of prostate stones and skin cancer cells on his nose.

secret illness

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During his presidency, Reagan wore a hearing aid in his right ear and then later, in his other ear as well.

8. George H.W. Bush

George Bush Sr. suffered from a couple of health problems but they wouldn’t take a toll on his life until later on. As a teenager, he almost died from a staph infection. During his career as a naval aviator, he suffered a lot of lung and head trauma. He also had bleeding ulcers, arthritis, and various cysts.

secret illness

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Along with his wife and strangely, his family dog, the 41st president was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune illness that affects the thyroid.

9. Warren Harding

While everyone else on this list suffered from physical ailments, Warren Harding dealt with a lot of mental illnesses. Before he even became president, he spent some time in a sanitarium to help him deal with his fatigue and nervous illness. Eventually, his mental disorders affected him physically and he started to gain a lot of weight and have bad insomnia, which led to exhaustion.

secret illness

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In 1923, before the end of his term, he died unexpectedly from a heart failure during a game of golf.

10. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Our 34th president had a lot of health scares during the two terms he was president. In 1955, Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack and he was hospitalized for 6 weeks. Two years later, he would suffer a mild stroke that was caused by a  left ventricular aneurysm he received from the heart attack. He was also diagnosed with Crohn’s disease the year before and had surgery for a bowel obstruction.

secret illness

Healthline.com

During his last 3 years as president, his health was better but it soon went downhill after he left the oval office.

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Source: Healthline

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