UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Geriatrics

Title: tachypnea and infections

Keywords: tachypnea, pneumonia, elderly, geriatric (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/4/2010 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 1/26/2022)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

The majority of "classic" symptoms and signs in elderly patients with pneumonia (fever, cough, sputum production, leukocytosis,chest pain) are unreliably present. However, tachypnea is one of the most reliable early findings in elderly patients with pneumonia, and in fact the same can be said about other serious bacterial illnesses in the elderly. The takeaway point here is simple: always count the respiratory rate in elderly patients (and don't trust those triage respiratory rates)!

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