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Seniors with Covid-19 show unusual symptoms, doctors say

April 23, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Older adults with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have several "atypical" symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment, according to physicians.

(Kaiser Health News)Older adults with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have several "atypical" symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment, according to physicians.

"With a lot of conditions, older adults don't present in a typical way, and we're seeing that with Covid-19 as well," said Dr. Camille Vaughan, section chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Emory University.

Recognizing danger signs is important: If early symptoms of Covid-19 are missed, seniors may deteriorate before getting needed care.

Dr. Sam Torbati, medical director of the Ruth and Harry Roman Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, describes treating seniors who initially appear to be trauma patients but are found to have Covid-19.

Dr. Anthony Perry, an associate professor of geriatric medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, tells of an 81-year-old woman with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea who tested positive for Covid-19 in the emergency room.

Another 80-year-old Rush patient with similar symptoms — nausea and vomiting, but no cough, fever or shortness of breath ― is in intensive care after getting a positive Covid-19 test and due to be put on a ventilator.

In Switzerland, Dr. Sylvain Nguyen, a geriatrician at the University of Lausanne Hospital Center, has put together a list of typical and atypical symptoms in older Covid-19 patients in a forthcoming paper in the Revue Médicale Suisse.

On the front lines, physicians need to make sure they carefully assess an older patient's symptoms.

"While we have to have a high suspicion of Covid-19 because it's so dangerous in the older population, there are many other things to consider," said Dr. Kathleen Unroe, a geriatrician at Indiana University's School of Medicine.

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