Allergies. Sinus congestion. Heartburn. It sounds like a list of minor health ticks that many of us suffer from, and these are the same health bugs that we learned President-elect Joe Biden also has when he went in for a medical exam this time last year. In December 2019, the President-elect’s doctor, Kevin C. O’Connor told The Wall Street Journal that Biden experiences gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, which makes him need to clear his throat when it is happening.
Harvard Medical School says GERD is known to many of us as heartburn, where “acid and digestive enzymes from the stomach flow backwards into the esophagus.” GERD can cause difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, coughing, and hoarseness. An endoscopy, a procedure involving a doctor looking at your esophagus to make sure it is working properly, is the best way to test for GERD.
In the President-elect’s case, Dr. O’Connor said, “This [GERD] may also contribute to occasional cough and sinus congestion. He has [also] received endoscopy to rule out any more significant disease.”
Biden had supporters worried during his speech
But Joe Biden had worried supporters and jubilant critics chattering Monday night when he delivered an address to the nation punctuated by throat clearing — which at one point became so distracting it caused one body language expert to tell The List that the speech was difficult to watch.
One Biden critic said, “There is something seriously wrong with Joe Biden. Medically speaking. What is the deal with his throat clearing?? If, and it’s a big IF he gets in, there is no way he finishes his 4 year term.” But one supporter responded to the throat clearing with, “Everybody at my house has that same nasal drip/throat clearing thing that Joe Biden has — don’t worry people — it isn’t COVID!” Conspiracy theories flew after his address, from nerves to throat cancer, but as Biden’s doctor clarified to the WSJ in December 2019, his GERD symptoms simply require him to clear his throat at times.
Given that we’ve seen the President-elect take to the podium pretty regularly since his victory was announced in early November, and that this is the first time the throat clearing has become a thing social media has picked up, we can only imagine that Biden’s experience with GERD is not too serious. As Dr. O’Connor said, in sum, “Vice President Biden is a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those as chief executive, head of state, and commander in chief.”
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