Ask the doctor| Infections in the elderly

"For example, patients with pneumonia may not have respiratory symptoms, and patients with urinary tract infections may not have dysuria. In many frail elderly,  fever is frequently absent with infection."
"For example, patients with pneumonia may not have respiratory symptoms, and patients with urinary tract infections may not have dysuria. In many frail elderly, fever is frequently absent with infection."GK Layout Desk

What are the common symptoms of infections in the elderly?

Early detection of infection can be difficult in older adults due to the frequent absence of typical signs and symptoms.

Instead of classic symptoms of infection, elderly with infections may present with loss of energy, confusion, delirium, decreased appetite or falls.

Many common infections do not present with classic symptoms in older adults.

For example, patients with pneumonia may not have respiratory symptoms, and patients with urinary tract infections may not have dysuria. In many frail elderly,  fever is frequently absent with infection.

Elderly may also experience worsening of their chronic diseases during infection. Weakness and loss of energy is commonly seen in gastroenteritis, abdominal infection, urinary infection and chest infection.

What may be the non-specific symptoms of Pneumonia in the elderly?

Confusion or loss of appetite, may be the only symptom of pneumonia in the elderly. 

What may be the non-specific symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection in the elderly?

Urinary incontinence, loss of energy, behaviour changes, decreased appetite, weight loss, immobility, and falls. 

Does the risk of sepsis increase with ageing?

Yes, because of impaired immunity, poor nutrition, exposure to invasive procedures and underlying diseases. Sepsis can present with many of the previously-mentioned non-specific symptoms. Patients with sepsis may also have low body temperature rather than fever.

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