OLDER people with coronavirus are suffering “unusual symptoms” such as “being dizzy” or a “loss of appetite”, doctors have warned.
Pensioners and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk of contracting Covid-19.
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Elderly people could have symptoms such as delirium and fatigueCredit: Getty – Contributor
But some doctors have now claimed that many elderly patients don’t have some of the tell-tale signs of the virus, such as a persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath.
The coronavirus has so far claimed the lives of more than 247,000 people across the word, with more than 28,000 deaths in the UK.
One specialist has now claimed that older adults are not presenting in a “typical way” meaning that early signs of the virus could be being missed.
A professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Florida said an older person’s immune system may be “blunted” and their ability to “regulate temperature may be altered”.
Illness ‘masks symptoms’
Speaking to Kaiser Health News, Dr Joseph Ouslander said: “Underlying chronic illnesses can mask or interfere with signs of infection.
“Some older people, whether from age-related changes or previous neurological issues such as a stroke, may have altered cough reflexes.
“Others with cognitive impairment may not be able to communicate their symptoms.”
He added that older people may deteriorate before getting care and could be risking the spread of the infection in the community.
One doctor in Atlanta said she treated a patient who had a plethora of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
He started to become lethargic and was unable to walk, but didn’t have a cough or fever.
Dr Quratulian Syed said the patient didn’t have a fever or cough and was only sneezing on and off.
On two occasions paramedics checked him over, on the third occasion he was taken to hospital, where he tested positive for the virus.
The atypical symptoms to watch out for
Dr Sylvain Nguyen from Switzerland has compiled a list of atypical symtpoms older people could suffer as a result of the coronavirus.
Here’s what to watch out for:
drop in blood pressure
Dr Syed said the paramedics had entered the property without the correct PPE and had been put at risk.
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Trauma signs a clue
Other elderly patients could also display symptoms of trauma, according to Dr Sam Torbati, who said many older people become weak and dehydrated and in some cases have collapsed and injured themselves.
He said he has also seen adults who are disorientated, once they are tested it’s discovered that these changes are a central nervous system effect of the virus.
This is while doctors in San Francisco and Chicago have also seen patients with symptoms such as nausea, delirium and vomiting, who have then tested positive for the virus.
Dr Sylvain Nguyen, a geriatrician at the University of Lausanne Hospital in Switzerland said it was important to gather a list of typical and atypical symptoms for older patients.
The atypical list includes symptoms such as, low blood pressure, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea fainting, delirium and fatigue.
The data compiled by Dr Nguyen was gathered from reports from hospitals and care homes across Switzerland, France and Italy.
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Identifying such symptoms could prevent the spread of the disease and could also protect key workers from contracting the virus.
But one doctor said older people will struggle during this time due to a change in routine.
Dr Kathleen Unroe from Indiana University’s School of Medicine said activities have stopped in many care homes, which in turn will make residents weaker.
She also added that older people may not be getting as much help as usual when it comes to sorting out their medication.
Many may also be struggling mentally with the change, as they are forced to stay away from their loved ones.
She added: “Someone may be just having a bad day.
“But if they’re not themselves for a couple of days, absolutely reach out to a primary care doctor or a local health system hotline to see if they meet the threshold for testing.