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Due to underlying health conditions and potentially compromised immune systems, senior citizens may not present the typical symptoms for coronavirus. While symptoms are known to include a dry cough, shortness of breath and fever, elderly patients may display symptoms differently.
Doctors have noted a range of atypical symptoms in seniors, including anosmia (loss of smell), dizziness, delirium, falls, nausea, vomiting, headaches and chest pain, among others, according to the British Geriatrics Society.
Seniors with atypical symptoms may inadvertently be sent to general medical wards as opposed to COVID-19 wards, BGS notes.
“While there is little research data, front line experience both in the UK and in other countries suggests that many older people may present atypically and therefore slip through the triaging net,” the report states.
Doctors urge seniors’ family members to persist in seeking medical help before the onset of further decline.
Dr. Laura Perry, for instance, treated an elderly woman in San Francisco who was presenting cold symptoms and confusion, according to the DailyMail. After the patient was diagnosed with hypoactive delirium, she tested positive for COVID-19.
To compound the issue, those in nursing homes may be in solitary confinement for safety measures without access to sufficient exercise, thereby weakening the already vulnerable population.
Older adults can take precautions to reduce the risk of getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises staying home, washing hands often, and maintaining six feet of distance from others.