The official blog of the Lung Institute.

President’s Day (Presidents with Lung Disease)

16 Feb 2015
| Under Lifestyle, Lung Disease | Posted by
Presidents with Lung Disease Lung Institute

Washington’s Birthday, also known as Presidents’ Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. The day honors presidents of the United States, including George Washington, the USA’s first president. Presidents’ Day was first celebrated as a holiday in Washington D.C. in 1880. It was then made an official holiday in 1885. The holiday was originally held on the anniversary of George Washington’s birth, on February 22. In 1971, this holiday was moved to the third Monday in February.

In a fun break from the normal, we thought it would be great to discuss some of the U.S. Presidents that have lived with lung disease. Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. These diseases are generally caused by smoking, infections or a genetics. Lung diseases can play havoc on the lungs or airways, making it difficult to breathe right. Believe it or not, a fair share of our nation’s presidents have experienced the effects of not breathing right. Here are a few presidents with lung disease:

  • John F. Kennedy – Our 35th President was no stranger when it came to breathing difficulties from lung disease. From childhood to adolescence, he experienced whooping cough, jaundice and chronic asthma. He commonly had to deal with allergies that were triggered by dogs, horses and dust.
  • George H W. Bush – The 41st president has been living with an ongoing case of bronchitis. This condition has currently affected him later in life. He is receiving treatment.
  • Woodrow Wilson – The 28th president suffered from asthma. His family reported that he occasionally had difficulty breathing normally and suffered from horrible coughing when his asthma flared-up.
  • Theodore Roosevelt – Since infancy, our 26th president lived with severe asthma and some occurrence of pneumonia. His family would travel the world looking for remedies and a climate to help him breathe better.
  • Martin Van Buren – Our 8th president suffered from ongoing coughing and shortness of breath at the age of 40. Doctors diagnosed him with asthma, but many believe that he was experiencing a severe case of emphysema. He later died at the age of 79 due to respiratory complications.
  • Bill Clinton – Our 42nd President has significant allergic rhinitis triggered by house dust, mold spores, cat dander and pollen (weed and grass). Allergy injections were prescribed and well tolerated.
  • James Monroe – The 5th president commonly lived tuberculosis which greatly impacted him with shortness of breath and coughing.


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