Lung infections and aging

Ageing Res Rev. 2004 Jan;3(1):55-67. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2003.07.002.


Respiratory tract infections are the leading cause of death due to infectious disease in the elderly. Many factors, especially waning immune responses and the onset of age-associated organ dysfunction, likely account for an increase in susceptibility to respiratory tract infection in the elderly, and morbidity and mortality rates are substantially greater for the elderly when outcomes are compared to that of younger individuals. The presence of underlying disease states such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other organ system disease further increases the likelihood of developing severe pneumonia in the elderly population, and the frail elderly, particularly when institutionalized in chronic care facilities, are at high risk for developing severe and recurrent pneumonia. This article will discuss various factors associated with advanced age that predispose the elderly to respiratory infections and summarize current approaches to treatment and prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / physiology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance / physiology
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents