Common infections in the elderly

Am Fam Physician. 1992 Jun;45(6):2691-8.


Symptoms of infection in the elderly may be absent, vague or atypical. Infection should be suspected when an elderly patient presents with a decline in well-being or with non-specific symptoms such as falls, dizziness, confusion, anorexia or weakness. Common infections include bacterial pneumonia, urinary tract infection, intra-abdominal infections, gram-negative bacteremia and infection of decubitus ulcers. Antibiotic therapy is not recommended for asymptomatic bacteriuria or locally infected decubitus ulcers. Drug dosages should be adjusted for the age-associated decline in renal function and for hepatic or renal insufficiency. The trend in antibiotic therapy is evolving toward the use of third-generation cephalosporins instead of aminoglycosides to avoid the side effects of nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity. Pneumococcal, influenza and tetanus/diphtheria immunizations help prevent morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Causality
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Decision Trees
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Geriatrics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Incidence
  • Infections* / diagnosis
  • Infections* / epidemiology
  • Infections* / therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents