Symptoms of COVID-19 Among Older Adults: Systematic Review of Biomedical Literature

Geriatr Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2020 Jun 1;18(2):135-140. doi: 10.1684/pnv.2020.0863.


The COVID-19 pandemic is particularly severe in older adults. Our objective was to identify, from international literature, the most common symptoms met in older adults infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This systematic review of the literature was conducted using MEDLINE from December 1, 2019 to April 13, 2020. The analysis of methodological quality used a method dedicated to case series and case reports. Out of 260 articles initially identified, only two studies were finally included in the qualitative analysis. The mean age was relatively low, between 71 and 74 years on average. The symptoms of COVID-19 were as follows: fever, dry cough, dyspnea, asthenia, anorexia, chest tightness, diarrhea, and to a lesser extent myalgia, pharyngitis, nausea, dizziness, headache, abdominal pain and finally vomiting. Lymphopenia was found in the complete blood count. In conclusion, this systematic review of the international literature reveals a lack of data about the semiology of COVID-19 in older adults, especially in the frail oldest-old ones who commonly define the geriatric population. The national survey conducted by the French Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology will help fill this semiological gap.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-Cov-2; older adults; semiology; symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged*
  • Aged, 80 and over*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19