Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by ashley.davis
Infections and diseases are common health problems in seniors. About 60% of the elderly in the US have been victims of the most common infections in seniors. These infections tend to impact the health of all these seniors. Also, they have been the cause of vital death amongst the elderly population.
Seniors are prone to infections and diseases because they tend to be weak. As you age, the antibodies present inside your body start to get weaker. Thus, they lose the ability to function, putting all our seniors at health risk. It does not matter whether a senior has the facilities needed to cope with these infections. They are still susceptible to them.
Why Are Infections More Common in Seniors?
There are many kinds of infections that seniors are susceptible to. They range from minute diseases to some of the most major ones. It doesn’t matter what the age is. If you are above 50 years old, then there is a chance you might be affected by these. Each disease impacts the adult in its capacity.
From simple flu to major diseases, the infection can be very dangerous too. The severity of the infection largely depends on how it has changed. Whether the individual being infected by such has the capacity to deal with them or not. The most common community-acquired infection in elderly is Streptococcus pneumonia. It spreads through coughing, sneezing, or other contacts.
What Are the Most Common Infections in Elderly?
There is a long list of diseases that take place. The most common kinds are as follows:
Influenza is not much of a significant problem. But it is one of the most common forms of disease-infected in adults. It is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs, throat, and nose. It does not matter whether you are in a cold climate or a warm one. We do see many adults suffering from it.
Influenza can range from a bad fever to simple flu. They can impact the nostrils and the throat of the adult. They can even be ongoing or recurring after every few days. It is noted that adults who live in much colder climates are prone to suffering from a continuous cycle of cold. A change in weather can also result in the patient suffering from a constant cold. Influenza can be treated at home.
If your grandparents or parents are old and suffering from influenza, then you should treat them. This can be done through hot drinks such as soups and tea. But, if the cold seems severe and doesn’t go away so soon, it is best to take them to a doctor. The doctors will prescribe antibiotics and other medicines to help them get better.
2. Bacterial Pneumonia
Bacterial pneumonia is a serious lung infection that occurs when bacteria invade the lungs. About 60% of seniors get affected by bacteria pneumonia. It is one of the most common respiratory infections in the elderly and also can be life-threatening.
These bacteria can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. They can also spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood. Bacterial pneumonia is more common in people who smoke cigarettes or have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or COPD.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
The symptoms of bacterial pneumonia can come on suddenly and are often worse than the symptoms of a cold or the flu. The most common symptoms are sharp, stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough.
Other symptoms may include:
- Cough with green or yellow mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Sweating and shaking chills
- Loss of appetite
If left untreated, bacterial pneumonia can lead to respiratory failure and death.
Treatment for bacterial pneumonia typically involves a course of antibiotics, a balanced diet plan, and rest. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. With prompt treatment, most people make a full recovery from bacterial pneumonia.
3. Skin Infections
Aging causes many changes in the skin. This leads to the weakening of its healing ability. As a result, the older you get, the more prone you are to various skin infections. What makes it worse is how none of the creams you buy from the market can benefit your skin anymore.
Some of the most common examples of skin infections include:
- foot infections
- cellulitis or drug-resistant infections
- viral infections such as herpes zoster
- Foot infections are most common in patients who have diabetes
The doctor prescribes both medicines and a tube-like cream to prevent them from happening. The foot infection leaves many marks on your feet and makes it look bad. These skin conditions can come from various sources, including:
- weakened immune system
- lack of mobility
- moisture, or
- human contact
4. Urinary tract Infections or the UTI
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and travel to the bladder or kidneys. UTIs in seniors has become a major issue as more than 30% of nursing home patients have been reported to suffer from UTIs. Seniors who have diabetes or use a catheter are at a higher risk.
Other causes include:
- Sexual Intercourse
- Increased vaginal pH
- Not urinating properly
- Use of birth control
- E. coli bacteria
Symptoms of UTI
Some very common symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections are as follows:
- Burning or pain when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Urgent need to urinate
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- A strong odor to urine
- Pelvic pain or rectal pain
- Fever or chills
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible as UTIs can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Treatment for a UTI often involves antibiotics to clear the infection. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary if the infection is severe or has spread to the kidneys. Home remedies such as drinking cranberry juice or placing a heating pad on the lower abdomen can also help to relieve symptoms.
Drinking plenty of fluids is also important, as it helps to flush out the bacteria that can cause an infection. In addition, wiping from front to back after going to the bathroom can help to prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
5. Gastrointestinal infections
Gastrointestinal (GI) infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that enter the GI tract and cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The GI tract is a long tube that runs from the mouth to the anus and includes the stomach and intestines. Most GI infections are mild and resolve on their own, but some can lead to more serious complications.
The most common GI infections are caused by foodborne illnesses, which can be contracted by eating contaminated food or water. These infections can be particularly dangerous for young children, elderly adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The symptoms of Gastrointestinal infections may include:
- abdominal cramps and pain
- loss of apetite
This rapid loss of liquid means that you need to hydrate the patient while making a quick diagnosis. If other people also consumed the same meals, then it is safe to assume that this is a food-related outbreak.
The most common treatment for GI infections is antibiotics, which can be taken orally or intravenously. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, but they are not effective against viral infections. In cases where antibiotics are not effective, other treatments such as anti-viral drugs or probiotics may be recommended.
With proper treatment, most gastrointestinal infections will resolve within a few days to a week. However, it is important to see a doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.
6. Stomach Issues
Diseases such as these usually clear up on their own within a few days. But always speak to a medical professional to be safe. Use this threat as an excellent incentive to wash your hands before eating.
The best way to avoid these problems is to make sure that a healthy diet plan is followed. You must make sure that your patient is not eating oily food with a lot of spices. Try to make sure that your elderly have a diet with bland carbohydrates such as oatmeal and bread. Doctors often recommend a liquid diet for such patients. It is best to keep feeding them with soup and add vegetables to their diets.
What Factors Make the Elderly Susceptible to the Most common Infections?
The aging process makes them vulnerable. It impacts all areas of life and health. Once you cross a certain age, your body becomes less responsive to diseases. This makes one prone to diseases and infections much more. The body, in many cases, fails to fight or slows down. This indicates a fall in the immune system’s ability to stand against any viruses. This is troubling because it leads the patient to other such diseases.
Once you age, you even become accustomed to various kinds of diseases. Blood pressure and diabetes are some of the common health issues which elders face. The antibodies inside the body are already busy fighting against other health problems.
In most cases, these infections are only a side effect of these other diseases. But, they are also the drawback of the medicines taken to fight other health issues such as diabetes. With so much going on within the body, it becomes difficult even to heal as quickly as possible.
Research has shown that such diseases are common in seniors who live in large communal homes or old-age hostages. Over here, they do not have access to private bathrooms, and the hygiene conditions can be compromised.
What Can be Done to Prevent the Most Common Infections in Eldelry?
To prevent these diseases from happening, building up a stronger immune system is a must. The food fed to the senior population should be rich with all kinds of essential nutrients.
The seniors should be vaccinated from time to time to make sure they remain healthy. Before prescribing any medicines, a doctor should consider the individual’s health history. They must warn families or consultants about any backdrops. Doing so will help patients prepare ways to prevent such.
It is also essential to focus on personal hygiene. The place where senior individuals are staying should be kept clean at all times. They should be disinfected regularly to make sure that they stay well. Creating a healthy environment is the key to make sure that the disease is prevented at all accounts.
To make sure that the senior is not suffering from these, it is best to look after their health. A focus on the diet and hygiene of senior citizens is essential. The housing authorities must focus on providing a healthy environment.
If you see your parents suffering from these most common infections in seniors, then see the doctor. The doctor will help you provide a diet plan and the appropriate form of medication that you must follow. It is usual for the body to weaken, but you must pay attention to their health needs.