The 9 Lives of George Washington: Ailments of Our First President

February 19, 2014
by Michael Barber
The 9 Lives of George Washington: Ailments of Our First President

George Washington was one of our founding fathers and our first President. Many people don’t realize that he was also a very sick man. There were several diseases that plagued President Washington, and while some of these are no longer around, others are still here.

1. Tuberculosis

On a sea voyage to help his brother with his tuberculosis treatment, George Washington contracted the disease. Tuberculosis is an infection in the lining of the lungs. Unfortunately, this is one of the diseases that is still prevalent today. While antibiotics from an urgent care facility can treat it, there are strains of the disease that are becoming resistant to treatments.

2. Diphtheria

Back in George Washington’s time, Diphtheria was a common infection. It is estimated that our first President contracted the infection when he was about 15. Not only does it cause a sore throat and a membrane over the back of the throat, it also creates toxins in the body which frequently led to death. Today, we prevent Diphtheria at an early age with vaccines through family care clinics.

3. Dysentery

Many times through his life, George Washington struggled with Dysentery. This is when there is mucous in the stools as well as bloody diarrhea. Today dysentery is still around, but can be treated with a number of options at an urgent care center.

4. Smallpox

By the time he was 19, George Washington had been infected by smallpox. The disease is extremely serious and kills about 1 in 3 victims. We no longer have to worry about this disease, as it has been defeated in our current world.

5. Malaria

Malaria was another disease that George Washington dealt with through his life. When it strikes, it comes with a severely high fever. While it is still around today, it is seen as a disease that strikes in developing nations.

6. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a disease that we still have in our society today. However, it can be treated at a walk-in clinic. George Washington had pneumonia at least once in his life, with difficulty breathing, high fever, and other symptoms.

7. Carbuncle

It was 1795 when there was a bump found on George Washington’s face, called a carbuncle. At the time, some people thought that it was cancer. However, we simply don’t know if it was cancer, or caused by one of the other diseases and problems that George Washington had. Carbuncles are still around, and can be caused by a number of things.

8. Epiglottitis

When George Washington contracted epiglottitis, he started complaining of a sore throat and had problems with swallowing. Epiglottitis can be found in children or adults who contract Haemophilus influenza. Since this flu is mostly gone due to vaccines we don’t often see it any more.

9. Quinsy

George Washington was diagnosed with Quinsy several times. This is a term that refers to an infection in the tonsils. Today tonsillitis is still around, but can be easily treated.

While some of the diseases that our first President are still around, many have been eradicated.