Most people’s immune systems tend to weaken over time. Bacteria and viruses that didn’t pose a threat to you when you were younger may be more likely to make you sick. Older people will need to be more careful about keeping themselves from getting sick. Here are some risks that you need to be aware of.
Infections Most Likely to Affect Seniors
All infections pose a greater risk to seniors as they get older. However, some pose a much greater risk than others. Here are a few types of infections that you will need to be particularly careful of.
Nearly two thirds of seniors over the age of 65 suffer from pneumonia. There are a number of reasons they are at greater risk of contracting the disease:
- Seniors’ lungs contract with age, which creates a greater risk of respiratory problems.
- Many older people live in senior communities where they are exposed to different pathogens.
- Many seniors suffer from other diseases such as diabetes that weaken their immune system.
Pneumonia can be a life-threatening problem for older seniors. Unfortunately, it can also be harder to identify, because seniors don’t always experience the same risk factors. They are less likely to show signs of a depressed respiratory system. However, they do tend to feel fatigued or delirious. You should speak with your doctor if you feel unusually weak or exhausted. They may diagnose you with pneumonia and treat you accordingly.
Urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are among the most common type of infection that elderly people need to be aware of. Seniors that need to use catheters are at a higher risk of developing a UTI. Here are some symptoms that you need to be aware of:
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation during urination
You should speak with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. They may recommend a urinalysis to see if you are suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Skin tends to become less resistant to bacteria as it ages. You will need to be aware of the risks and take measures to treat it. Persistent itching and redness are the most common symptom of a skin infection. Your doctor may recommend visiting a dermatologist if you have a serious skin infection.
Treat Infections Early
Infections account for approximately a third of all deaths in seniors. You will need to treat them as soon as possible. Since the symptoms are often different in older adults, you will need to be more vigilant about contacting your doctor if you experience any signs of illness.
You may need to try a powerful antibiotic such as Levaquin if you are experiencing an infection. You should consult with your doctor before taking the medication to make sure that it is a therapeutically effective dose. You will also need to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with any of the other medications that you are taking.
You may also need to do different things to strengthen your immune system. Exercising, changing your diet and taking vitamin C or iron supplements may help you get over the infection more easily.
About the author: Miguel is a third year medical school student. He plans to focus on immunology when he begins his residency.