Atypical Covid-19 symptoms in the elderly

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
There was a sudden increase in deaths in my mum’s nursing home unit – all in one week early on in lockdown - and during this period I was informed that mum was being treated for symptoms of a UTI (which she hasn’t had in over 2 years). She’s fine now but I’ve been wondering if she might have been displaying covid-19 symptoms that were overlooked, and I found this interesting article about how the elderly are not always displaying the 'typical' covid-19 symptoms of fever/cough because older bodies react differently to illness & infection. Symptoms identified have included - not acting themselves, sleeping more than usual, stopping eating, being unusually confused or apathetic, delirium & falls. These symptoms might be overlooked initially, or not considered as potentially covid-19 related, particularly in those with dementia or nursing home residents, leading to poorer outcomes.

The article explains that there may be a variety of reasons for these symptoms but doctors should also consider if the person could have been exposed to covid-19 during the previous 2 weeks. Mum’s GP did call to ask about any symptoms I’d noticed but I couldn’t say because I hadn’t been visiting due to the lockdown: https://khn.org/news/seniors-with-covid-19-show-unusual-symptoms-doctors-say/view/republish/
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,968
Kent
It`s likely you`ll never know @Louise7 because little attention was given to people in care homes at that time. It might be different now. I sincerely hope so.
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
It`s likely you`ll never know @Louise7 because little attention was given to people in care homes at that time. It might be different now. I sincerely hope so.
Yes, that was the problem at the time @Grannie G , care home residents were not being tested so unless a reliable antibodies test becomes available then we won't know for sure whether mum has had the virus or not. Similarly, during mid-January I was very ill and displaying symptoms which are now known to be indicative of covid-19 - lethargy, fever and a dry cough. I thought at first if was flu but it became much worse than any flu I'd had previously had, and I went to the GP as I was having problems breathing and was given anti-biotics for a chest infection. Research now indicates that the virus was likely to be in the country much earlier than first thought.

Gosh, thats really interesting @Louise7
Yes @canary and I'm surprised that the information hasn't been more widely reported in this country. It was in a few newspapers recently but the government advice still refers to the main symptoms of covid-19 as fever/persistent cough so I wonder whether care home staff/carers are aware that symptoms in the elderly may be quite different. It may even be a contributory factor with regards to why it has spread so rapidly in care homes, and dementia is seen as a 'high risk' factor - the potential covid-19 symptoms specific to the elderly haven't been recognised and some (eg increased confusion) could be mistaken as just dementia related. I'll leave it up to the scientists to look into that!
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,968
Kent
Research now indicates that the virus was likely to be in the country much earlier than first thought.
I was very ill in October/November 2019. I have never felt so bad and was at home for two weeks with a persistent cough which hurt my ribs, and a temperature. I didn`t get dressed for two weeks I couldn`t take my medication because of the coughing. I didn`t need antibiotics but my granddaughter aged 23 actually broke a rib while coughing. She was prescribed antibiotics.

I would love to be tested, just out of interest, as would my granddaughter. It would also be very interesting if your mother was tested @Louise7
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
Just seen on the BBC news that a loss of smell/taste has today been added to the UK list of covid-19 symptoms. The article refers to a wide range of other symptoms including tiredness, headache, diarrhoea, rash that the WHO and other countries are including within their list of symptoms to look out for but the UK isn't. A lead researcher is quoted as saying “We list about 14 symptoms which we know are related to having a positive swab test. These are not being picked up by the NHS. This country is missing them all and not only underestimating cases but also putting people at risk and continuing the epidemic. There's no point telling people to be alert if they don't know the symptoms":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52704417
 

istherelight?

Registered User
Feb 15, 2017
128
There was a sudden increase in deaths in my mum’s nursing home unit – all in one week early on in lockdown - and during this period I was informed that mum was being treated for symptoms of a UTI (which she hasn’t had in over 2 years). She’s fine now but I’ve been wondering if she might have been displaying covid-19 symptoms that were overlooked, and I found this interesting article about how the elderly are not always displaying the 'typical' covid-19 symptoms of fever/cough because older bodies react differently to illness & infection. Symptoms identified have included - not acting themselves, sleeping more than usual, stopping eating, being unusually confused or apathetic, delirium & falls. These symptoms might be overlooked initially, or not considered as potentially covid-19 related, particularly in those with dementia or nursing home residents, leading to poorer outcomes.

The article explains that there may be a variety of reasons for these symptoms but doctors should also consider if the person could have been exposed to covid-19 during the previous 2 weeks. Mum’s GP did call to ask about any symptoms I’d noticed but I couldn’t say because I hadn’t been visiting due to the lockdown: https://khn.org/news/seniors-with-covid-19-show-unusual-symptoms-doctors-say/view/republish/
When my Mum became unwell the CH thought she, too, might have a UTI - confusion, very unsteady and generally out of sorts. She was treated with antibiotics in case it was an infection. She quickly developed a high temperature but no cough and no trouble breathing. The carers told me that a numbers of other residents were ill (by this time Covid-19 was in the CH) but that none had the cough. It does seem as if it can attack the very elderly differently, and it is possible that some do not survive long enough to develop a cough or breathing problems.
 

jugglingmum

Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
5,922
Chester
I was very ill in October/November 2019. I have never felt so bad and was at home for two weeks with a persistent cough which hurt my ribs, and a temperature
We had illness like this in Dec/Jan (I was in bed for 3 days - unheard of - can't remember the last time I was that poorly - maybe 1990/1 dec/Jan period) we then had what I am convinced are Covid symptoms in March April - directly linked to dau - whose flatmate had lost his sense of taste and smell 2 days before she came home. I didn't have a fever or cough, but aches, exhaustion, sore throat (like barbed wire there all the time) and headaches - really odd headaches - all of which tick the WHO list - and then weeks of severe fatigue afterwards.

I have seen a lot of on line chatter speculated in bugs people had in the winter (Nov to Jan) were in fact Covid, and I think if it was that widespread then, why is it suddenly hospitalizing people now but not then.

There were definitely similarities in both bugs I had, but significant differences where my April symptoms tied into Covid symptoms on the WHO list in a way my Jan ones didn't.

I didn't develop any trace of cough when I think I had covid but my lung function was significantly damaged when I returned to cycling - in a way I've never experienced before - but didn't notice in the house. This is consistent with an A & E nurse friend saying people are presenting with heart issues but sats are low and chest xray indicates a covid type of pneumonia - in fact all my nurse friends are commenting on how odd this illness is in the way it presents.
 

RosettaT

Registered User
Sep 9, 2018
514
Mid Lincs
That's interesting. My OH has gone off his food and sleeping a bit more. I wouldn't say confused but I would say not himself, a little spaced out really. All could of course be put down to progressive dementia.

I did however get a letter on Friday asking if I would like to take part in the Covid 19 testing research study, so am now awaiting my home test kit. Test results should be back within a week of sending the swab back.
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
I have seen a lot of on line chatter speculated in bugs people had in the winter (Nov to Jan) were in fact Covid, and I think if it was that widespread then, why is it suddenly hospitalizing people now but not then.
Perhaps it was hospitalising people then but it just wasn’t being reported in the media? There was a big rise in reported cases of 'flu' in December/January with hospitalisation up 10% from the previous year and an increase in deaths but people weren’t being tested for Covid at that stage and the media aren’t really interested in flu cases – it certainly wasn’t in the news on a daily basis:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/20...lu-10-fold-higher-last-year-official-figures/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/...tal-ill-patient-gps-vaccine-phe-a9244201.html

I did however get a letter on Friday asking if I would like to take part in the Covid 19 testing research study, so am now awaiting my home test kit. Test results should be back within a week of sending the swab back.
Hopefully the result will come back quickly and all will be well. Mum was swabbed at her care home but the first result was unclear/inconclusive so she had another test but that was a week ago and still no sign of the result yet :(
 

jugglingmum

Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
5,922
Chester
Perhaps it was hospitalising people then but it just wasn’t being reported in the media
I think if it was it would have been spotted given it's symptoms are quite different from flu once hospitalized - a Paris hospital went back and checked all the samples from pneumonia patients in Dec and only one was a positive test on 27th - and had traceable links to Wuhan. This illness has a high contagion rate - which was visible from the increase in intensive care beds - so it isn't possible from that data to have been here in Dec and Jan. Personally I think the speculation it was here earlier is actually spreading fake news.

Flu is very variable season to season and people are tested for flu on entering hospital so they would have had the flu bug if their hospital death was recorded as flu. This year was meant to be a bad bug - which might account for why I and many I knew were fairly poorly in early Jan.
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
Personally I think the speculation it was here earlier is actually spreading fake news.
There's a lot of it about! I guess due to the absence of any testing at the time there's no way of knowing exactly when the arrived in other countries but the high numbers of unexplained deaths are being looked into so the scientists may come up with something in time.
 

Palerider

Registered User
Aug 9, 2015
2,025
North West
I believe there was a spike of deaths before Christmas as per the Office of National Statistics, but the reason for this will remain unexplained and so inconclusive as to whether it was Covid-19. It remains an open question not helped by bad reporting on social media. Anyone who wants to check this can do so by visiting the ONS site and comparing the figures for 2019 to 2018 further back if they wish:


I think the response has been variable, but this virus has caught so many experts out as unpredictable in how people present who are inoculated with coronavirus -its certainly been difficult to say with any certatinty who has it without testing, reflected now in widespread media reporting as well as official guidance.

I have posted before about immune dysfuntion and especially its role in dementia. What has been difficult is that coronavirus has been so far unique and with a common theme of altered immune function which can mask infection as well as become the bigger problem for those who become unwell with resulting Covid-19. Its a nasty virus and tricky to detect.

Just one last thing, coronavirus is not overly infectious in comparison to other contageous diseases, and just to highlight that I have posted a pic from the World Health Organisation and marked approximately where coronavirus sits on it in the left hand bottom corner (in blue, and not very well). The bottom axis is the R value and the left axis case fatality rate, it puts coronavirus into perspective as it cleverly sits a small cluster of diseases that have evolved to remain prevalent. Not deadly enough to wipe out its host population but infectious enough to replicate itself:

Inked1276_microbescope3.0_LI.jpg
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
695
I think if it was it would have been spotted given it's symptoms are quite different from flu once hospitalized - a Paris hospital went back and checked all the samples from pneumonia patients in Dec and only one was a positive test on 27th - and had traceable links to Wuhan. This illness has a high contagion rate - which was visible from the increase in intensive care beds - so it isn't possible from that data to have been here in Dec and Jan. Personally I think the speculation it was here earlier is actually spreading fake news.

Flu is very variable season to season and people are tested for flu on entering hospital so they would have had the flu bug if their hospital death was recorded as flu. This year was meant to be a bad bug - which might account for why I and many I knew were fairly poorly in early Jan.
That is very interesting about the Paris hospital tests.
Below I have cut and paste some information from an article in the I newspaper, but as they say the only thing you read about in a newspaper you can rely on is the date!

Mystery surrounds a report which purports to show an emergency shutdown at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in October 2019. US and British intelligence agencies are examining the unverified report which is based on an analysis of mobile phone data in the city where coronavirus first emerged.
The report, carried out by private experts and obtained by NBC News, suggested there was no mobile phone activity in a high-security part of the laboratory complex from 7 October to 24 October. Previously, consistent use of mobile phones had been recorded.
 

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