UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Geriatrics

Title: immune system and elderly patients

Keywords: infections, immune system, geriatrics, elderly (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/16/2010 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 1/21/2022)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

Elderly patients should be considered immunocompromised for several reasons:
1. T cell function and reduced cellular immunity occur as we get older.
2. B cell antibody production decreases.
3. Host defenses against infection are reduced with aging, such as reduced circulation and thinning skin.
4. Miscellaneous factors, such as malnutrition and co-existing illnesses contribute to increased risk of infection as well.

[Good reference and suggested reading: Hals G. Common diagnoses become difficult diagnoses when geriatric patients visit the emergency department: Part I. Emergency Medicine Reports 2010;31(9):103-111.]