Health and Medical History of President

Barack Obama

President #44: 2009-2017
Lived 1961-Now
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Health and Medical History of President

Barack Obama

President #44: 2009-2017
Lived 1961-Now
Lived 1961-Now 2023 1776
Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican-American War
Civil War
Spanish-American War
World War 1
World War 2
Korean War
Viet Nam War
Desert Storm
Bush's Wars

Maladies & Conditions  · childhood infections · infectious exposures · minor childhood travails · forearm laceration · cigarettes · drug use · traveler's diarrhea · snores? · head cold · physician's letter 2008 · exercises · height & weight

Odds & Ends · Doctors · Resources · Cited Sources

Maladies and Conditions
childhood infections
Had measles and chicken pox while living in Indonesia 1a.
infectious exposures
Exposed to multiple animals while living in Indonesia, including a New Guinean ape, chickens, ducks, birds, dogs, and crocodiles 1b. He also was exposed to human diseases: scurvy, polio, leprosy, and a man with a gaping hole where his nose should be (syphilis?) 1c. Had an "endless series of shots" before going to Indonesia for the first time 1d. Comment: Who made these diagnoses?
minor childhood travails
Developed an "egg-size lump on the side of my head" after another boy struck him with a rock 1e.

Acne 1f.

forearm laceration
Ran into barbed wire while mudsliding in Indonesia. One of his forearms was lacerated from wrist to elbow, and required 20 stitches. "An ugly scar" remains. 1g
Obama was smoking cigarettes in high school 1h. He continued smoking afterwards 1i. He talked about quitting in 1988, but this may have been in jest 1j. He has [tried to] quit several times over the years MORE 2.

While running for President in 2008, he said he would quit, and that he was chewing Nicorette. His wife disclosed that, in exchange for giving her permission for him to run, she required that he quit 3. According to a February 2008 report, he quit smoking "several weeks" earlier 3.

Comment: Obama's total exposure to cigarettes, measured in "pack-years," has not been released. Any competent physician would elicit this information from the patient. It is so important that some physicians have called it a new "vital sign" (that's silly, but it makes the point). The quantified smoking exposure is important, among other reasons, in estimating the risk of various diseases. Although it appears as if the information was deliberately suppressed, I hope a reader can supply a pointer to the data.

In reports of his physical examinations while President, Obama's tobacco usage was described as "smoking cessation efforts" in 2010, "tobacco free" in 2011, and "remains tobacco free" in 2014 and 2016 4.

drug use
Used marijuana and "blow" (cocaine) in high school. He was dissuaded from injecting heroin by the fear that an air bubble might be injected, which would travel to his heart and stop it 1h.
traveler's diarrhea
Developed diarrhea while visiting Kenya, circa 1988. A relative gave him an herbal preparation as treatment 1k. Obama did not report if it was effective.
Obama describes his half-sister Auma saying to someone: "My brother, I think he snores" 1l. From the context of the story, it is possible the half-sister was making this up, as a joke.
head cold
Developed in Dallas in late February 2008 5.
physician's letter 2008
While running for the Presidency in 2008, Obama released a one-page letter from his physician, Dr. David L. Scheiner, summarizing 21 years of medical history MORE 2. The letter offers reassuring statements about Obama's blood pressure, cholesterol profile, electrocardiogram, and basic blood tests, including prostate specific antigen.

Comment: There is nothing inherently wrong with summarizing 21 years of medical history on one page -- if the patient has been healthy. Even so, this letter leaves a bad taste in Dr. Zebra's mouth, for several reasons: (1) It is undated. Putting a date on a document is as automatic as breathing for a physician. Why was there no date? (2) The characterization of "intermittent" smoking is unprofessional. Physicians speak in terms of "pack-years" of smoking. (3) The statement that Obama maintains a "good intake" of fluids rings false. Except for patients with various diseases, there is no call to measure fluid intake. It sounds like the physician was trying to fill space.

Is conscientious about exercising, "often jogging three miles," according to a 2008 letter from his physician MORE 2. Most of the press reports during the 2008 campaign, however, centered on his basketball playing. He was on his high school's basketball team 1f.
height & weight
Obama is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and weighs 165 pounds 6. He wears size 13 1/2 bowling shoes 7.
Odds and Ends
Before Presidency
In Congress (maybe)
1275 reviews
159 reviews
Cited Sources
  1. Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father. New York: Three Rivers Press, Revised Edition, 2004 (original edition 1995).
    a  p.36  b  p.34  c  pp.37, 38  d  p.31  e  p.35  f  p.74  g  pp.48-49  h  p.93  i  pp.100, 188, 255, 304  j  p.430  k  pp.392, 393, 394  l  p.349  m  p.22
  2. Scheiner, David L. ["To whom it may concern" letter]. . undated (but apparently 29 May 2008).

    Comment: Dr. David L. Scheiner became Obama's physician in 1987. A scanned copy of the letter is available from the New York Times. The letter is undated, but the Atlantic Magazine posted its copy of the letter on May 29, 2008.

  3. Kornblut, Anne E. Michelle Obama Weighs in on Husband's Smoking. 11 February 2008.

    Comment: At:

  4. Johnson, Jenna; Bernstein, Lenny. Trump's first official physical exam could provide new clues about his health. Washington Post. January 12, 2018.   Available on the web at:
  5. Zeleny, Jeff. As Obama's rallies swell, so does his security. International Herald Tribune [on-line]. 24 February 2008.
  6. Keys, Allison. [Report on inauguration preparations]. Weekend Edition. National Public Radio. 11 January 2009.
  7. Powell, Michael. Barack bowl. New York Times [online]. 30 March 2008.

    Comment: At:

Other Sources
Pubmed Search   (1 match when checked in March 2013)

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