The increased risk of sepsis in the elderly can be due to chronic co-morbidities such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and human immunodeficiency virus, among others. All of these are much more crucial in patients of advanced age.
The very young and those who already have a chronic health problem or a compromised immune system are at higher risk of developing sepsis. But people who are aging, over 65 years old, particularly those who have health issues, are even more susceptible to sepsis than any other group.
Urinary tract infection is the most common cause of sepsis in the elderly and responds best to antibiotic therapy. Pneumonia is the next most common cause and leads to the highest mortality in this age group; rapid (sometimes invasive) methods must be utilized to identify the etiologic agent.
Older patients are more susceptible to infections because their immune systems are weaker. They also may have additional conditions that open the door for infection. Chronic age-related diseases can contribute to weakness as well.
Here are the five most common infections in the elderly:
Bacterial infections cause most cases of sepsis. Sepsis can also be a result of other infections, including viral infections, such as COVID-19 or influenza.
‘Septic’ is a very different term from ‘sepsis’ to the infectious disease physician; the patient being septic means that the patient has the same symptomatology as a patient with sepsis, but the bacterial diagnosis may not be obvious and a range of other pathogens need to be considered much more broadly, so that
While any type of infection — bacterial, viral or fungal — can lead to sepsis, infections that more commonly result in sepsis include infections of:
Sepsis is often diagnosed based on simple measurements such as your temperature, heart rate and breathing rate. You may need to give a blood test. Other tests can help determine the type of infection, where it’s located and which body functions have been affected.
Some people are at higher risk for sepsis:
11 Risk Factors for Infections Among the Elderly
Life style risk factors such as aging, poor nutrition, infection and exposure to toxicants can also increase susceptibility to illnesses. These life style factors can therefore be considered to cause acquired susceptibility for increased risk for environmental disease.
There are three main risk factors that contribute to vulnerability in older adults: health status; cognitive ability; and, social network.
Older adults become more susceptible to infections due to several factors. As people get older, it is more frequent that they have comorbid conditions, such as diabetes, renal insufficiency and arthritis. Many comorbid conditions, both the number and type of comorbid conditions, predispose people to infections.
Bacterial Pneumonia and the Flu Bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common infections for a senior to develop and also very risky, especially if it goes untreated. As the AFP explained, more than 60 percent of people over the age of 65 end up hospitalized due to pneumonia.
Patients of advanced age with antibiotic exposure, recent gastrointestinal surgery, residence in a long-term care facility, or with serious underlying illnesses are at increased risk of acquiring this bacterial infection.