SARS in the Elderly: What to Look for?

SARS in the Elderly: What to Look for?

Acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI), commonly called colds, are infectious diseases of the upper respiratory tract (and specifically their mucous membranes) of a viral nature. SARS is not a separate disease, but their group, which includes viral lesions and catarrhal inflammations of various parts of the upper respiratory tract: rhinovirus and adenovirus infections, influenza and parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial viral infection. As a rule, colds and flu in adults pass by themselves and do not cause any unpleasant consequences. The biggest problem, in this case, is the need to comply with bed rest and skip work for several days (from 2-3 to a week). However, in older people, SARS, even the common cold, can cause serious complications.

Some pathogens pass through the respiratory tract even further – through the larynx into the trachea and bronchial passages, where they provoke laryngitis, pharyngitis or tracheitis. In this case, the body responds with a cough – a reflex that allows you to dump excess mucus, containing microorganisms and the toxins secreted by them, and throw it all out of the body. A cough, as a rule, has a barking character, sometimes accompanied by hoarseness. In addition to negative local effects, bacteria and viruses also poison the rest of the body: the toxic products of their activity enter the bloodstream and spread across all parts of the body. In response, the body raises the temperature and increases the production of antibodies that kill viruses (i.e., it activates the immune system).

There is a high risk of other complications of ARVI in the elderly (due to certain age-related changes). Thus, the elderly are more susceptible to inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (frontal sinusitis, sinusitis, and other types of sinusitis), and sometimes all the sinuses simultaneously. All these consequences of acute respiratory viral infections in older people often take a latent form, which then develops into a sluggish and chronic. Sinusitis is dangerous in that it can lead to infection by pathogenic viruses of the lining of the brain and the appearance of eye complications.

Since age causes a natural decline in immunity, it is much easier for older people to get infected (including ARVI and flu) than for younger people. In addition, after 60 years, atrophic processes begin in the mucous membranes of the body, including the nasopharynx and throat: the thickness of the epithelium and the number of microvilli covering it decrease; blood circulation in the mucous membranes slows down. As a result, the body of an elderly person produces less bactericidal substance containing antibodies and is unable to protect the respiratory tract from infection by bacteria and viruses. The air entering the body through the nose does not warm up sufficiently. This helps the ARVI viruses to reproduce further and spread into the larynx and lungs of a senior patient.

About Medigap: Supplemental or 2019 Medicare advantage plans allow older adults cover things such as copays and coinsurance. Thus, they tend to fill in the gaps within Part A & B Medicare.