Management of respiratory infections in the elderly

David Lieberman, Devora Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Respiratory infections are common at all ages but are particularly sinister among the elderly because of the fragility and chronic comorbidity associated with this age group. The three types of respiratory infection in the elderly are community-acquired pneumonia, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and nonpneumonic respiratory tract infection. The etiology of these three types of infection includes classic bacteria, atypical pathogens and respiratory viruses. The relative frequency of each of the etiological groups as the causative agent of the infection varies significantly among these types of infection, but in all three types a significant proportion of infections involves more than one pathogen. The causative agent of respiratory infection in the elderly cannot be determined on the basis of clinical manifestation or the results of routine imaging procedures or laboratory tests. Thus, initial antibiotic therapy in these patients should be empiric, based on accepted guidelines. In recent years, the antipneumococcal fluoroquinolones have gained in stature as one of the best options to treat these infections. Pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations can reduce morbidity and mortality from respiratory infections in the elderly, so it is important that all elderly individuals are vaccinated through a structured program in the framework of primary care. The economic impact of respiratory infections in the elderly is primarily associated with the requirement for hospitalization in many of the cases. Any action that can reduce hospitalization rates has important economic ramifications. In light of the difficulty in reaching an early etiologic diagnosis in respiratory infections, it is essential to invest in the development of a compact diagnostic kit for the early stages of the disease, which could change reality in this important area of medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-516
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • COPD
  • Community-acquired pneumonia
  • Diagnosis
  • Elderly exacerbation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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