Pneumonia can sneak up on elderly people and wreak life-threatening havoc before family members recognize the need for hospital care, warns Nabin Sapkota, M.D., a hospitalist in Nebraska. That’s because the disease shows up differently in older people than in younger ones.
In an article at the website for the newspaper The Columbus Telegram, Sapkota explains how early pneumonia looks in older people—and why it appears different than in younger folks. For example:
The lungs of elderly patients may not be able to react promptly to the infection. They may not be able to cough strongly and may not be aware of the swallow [sic] breathing. As a result some elderly patients do not complain of cough or shortness of breath. They may only describe their symptom as an uncomfortable feeling in the chest.
Other potential symptoms in elderly people include feeling cold, weak and lethargic; having a decreased appetite; and being slightly confused, Sapkota explains. Catching pneumonia early may save your loved one’s life, even if it doesn’t seem as urgent as you thought it would.
This post is for general information only, not individual advice or to take the place of a personal consultation with your health-care provider.
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