Doctor: Infections Common to Sen. Byrd's Age Group

Sen. Robert Byrd was hospitalized with a fever after showing signs of lethargy and sluggishness at home, his spokesman told FOX News on Monday.

Paramedics were called to the home of Byrd, 90, and he was transported to a hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a fever, legislative aide Jesse Jacobs said.

Byrd, the longest-serving U.S. senator, will remain hospitalized for several more days to treat a mild infection, Jacobs said.

Byrd also was hospitalized March 5 for tests after a reaction to antibiotics. A week earlier he was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington after he fell at home. spoke with Manisha Parulekar, a geriatrician at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, about what lies ahead in the next 24 hours for the West Virginia Democrat.

Parulekar has not treated Byrd. Are fevers more common for someone in Sen. Byrd’s age group?

Dr. Manisha Parulekar: Infections are more common in elderly as compared to the younger group. They can be the cause for mortality. What might be the reason for the infection?

Parulekar: Well, the doctors will have to rule out pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, which are the most common infections that we see in the hospitals in elderly people. Is it more difficult for someone Byrd’s age to recover from a fever than a younger person?

Parulekar: Not necessarily. Elderly people seem to respond quite well to antibiotics. Could his fever be related to his fall?

Parulekar: Quite possibly. As you grow older, you have an increased chance of falling. It’s likely the infection came first, which contributed to the fall. What sort of tests are doctors conducting?

Parulekar: Blood tests, urine samples and chest X-rays are the things to start with. How long do you presume he will be observed in the hospital?

Parulekar: Typically, in my practice, and depending on how well the patient responds to the antibiotics, they are able to go home within 24 to 48 hours if nothing serious comes up. If there is something severe, he will need to stay longer. Do you take any precautions when treating a geriatric as compared to a younger person?

Parulekar: We do a few things different. First, as you get older, your kidney function goes down, so the antibiotic dose is halved. We have to adjust the dose for the elderly. The second thing is, they have a more atypical presentation, so we do more testing as compared to the younger population. Those are the major two things.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.