Pneumonia in the Elderly: Understanding the Characteristics

Authors: Jun Shu, MD, PhD


In this issue of the Southern Medical Journal, Chong and Street review the characteristics of pneumonia in the elderly,1 which is more common and severe than in younger patients. The potential decrease of body immunity and the gradual anatomical and physiological changes of the respiratory system increase the susceptibility of older patients to pneumonia. Increased oropharyngeal colonization of flora and aspiration are other predisposing factors. Other risk factors include both various chronic diseases and iatrogenic factors. Unfortunately, delays in diagnosis and management increase the disease burden associated with pneumonia, which is the fifth cause of overall mortality in the elderly.2

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1.Chong CP, Street PR. Pneumonia in the elderly—A review of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, microbiology and clinical features. South Med J 2008;101:1141–1145.
2.Schmidt-Ioanas M, Lode H. Treatment of pneumonia in elderly patients. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2006;7:499–507.
3.Shu J. Preventive performance of pneumococcal vaccination in adults: insights into theory and practice of the vaccination. South Med J 2008;101:776.