Australian news, and some related international items

Pneumonia Dangers the Elderly Face

Lucy Wyndham

According to the Lung Foundation of Australia, the number of Australians between the ages 50 and 80-years-old infected with the pneumonia virus rises every year. It’s currently at around 200 per 100,000. Many older Australians don’t realise how urgent it is to get the appropriate vaccinations to protect them from this possibly fatal infection.

Equally concerning is that the elderly often won’t develop the same symptoms as younger people who get pneumonia; their bodies are ill-equipped to handle the infection and it will take longer for them to get over the infection than it does for younger people. Read on to discover how pneumonia affects the elderly in more detail.

What is Pneumonia?

Several types of lung infections caused by malignant organisms can cause pneumonia. Your lungs process nitrogen, oxygen and other nutritive gasses for your body to use. When your lungs are compromised, several other areas of your health are compromised as well.

In addition, the viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia are contagious. However, not everyone exposed to a pneumonia causing bacteria or virus will get pneumonia. Healthy people or those who’ve been properly immunised typically won’t get pneumonia.

  • Bronchial/Lobular pneumonia is an inflammation of the bronchi,
  • Lobar pneumonia is an infection of the lung lobes, and
  • Double pneumonia is an infection present in both lungs.

The Symptoms of Pneumonia and the Elderly

Typical symptoms of pneumonia include a rattling, phlegmy cough; shaking; the chills; feeling a worst flu after an initial cold or flu; a fever of over 102 degrees; shortness of breath and other breathing issues; chest pain; nausea; diarrhea and vomiting.

However, elderly people typically won’t experience a fever. Many of them experience low body temperature as a sign of pneumonia infection. They will also begin to behave differently, experiencing altered mental states. Many will start to appear unaware of their surroundings.

Changes in the Body

As the human body ages, the systems begin to breakdown. Many senior citizens have multiple chronic diseases making their immune systems weaker. The body also experiences physiological changes like:

  • Weakening of the respiratory muscles and cough reflexes,
  • Loss of lung elasticity, and
  • Decrease in mucociliary clearance, (the coughing mechanism and the bronchial cilia aren’t strong enough to move viruses and bacteria out of the lungs).

What Healing Looks Like

When it comes to healing, it takes longer for elderly people to recover from a pneumonia infection (6 to 8 weeks) than it does for younger people, (2 to 3 weeks). The symptoms are also more severe for older people because their systems are weaker. If you have older people in your life, it’s crucial to keep them immunised and give them access to ongoing medical care to increase their chances of avoiding pneumonia infection.

October 19, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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