Coronavirus UK: Key symptom to look for in frail over 65s – it’s not a new cough or fever2020-10-01
Coronavirus R rate – the number that indicates how many people are infected for every one person – has dropped from 1.7. to 1.1 in England, research conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori suggests. The researchers suggest that the decline hints at the effectiveness of the government’s tougher posture. Despite the public outcry, the ‘rule of six’ measure may be surpassing transmission, they suggest.
The news does provide cause for optimism but it is important to note that cases are still high.
It is therefore imperative to stay alert to the warning signs and self-isolate if you have them.
New research furthers our understanding of the symptoms common in older people.
According to the analysis conducted by King’s College London, delirium is more common than the main symptoms of coronavirus in over 65s.
According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of a COVID-19 are a new and continuous cough, a high temperature and a change in smell or taste.
“Most people will have at least one of these symptoms,” says the health body.
However, the new research suggests doctors, carers and loved one’s should look for signs of confusion or strange behaviour in older people.
In this King’s College London study, data from more than 800 people over the age of 65 was analysed.
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They included 322 patients in hospital with COVID-19, and 535 people using the Covid Symptom Study app to record their symptoms or log health reports on behalf of friends and family.
All had received a positive test result.
The researchers found that older adults admitted to hospital who were classified as frail were more likely to have had delirium as one of their symptoms, compared with people of the same age who weren’t frail.
Frailty is a standard classification employed by doctors to describe older people who find it difficult to recover from everyday illness, strains and accidents.
They are also more likely to have falls and end up in hospital when ill.
The study found that for one in five patients in hospital with COVID-19, delirium was their only symptom.
Among over-65s using the app, delirium was also more prevalent in frailer people with COVID-19 compared with more fit and healthy people of the same age with the infection.
For the frailer cohort, possible delirium was defined as having any symptoms of confusion, disorientation or drowsiness.
Tiredness and breathlessness were also common among frail app users.
And a third of app users who said they had experienced delirium did not have the classic symptoms of a cough or fever.
“Older, frailer people are at greater risk from COVID-19 than those who are fitter, and our results show that delirium is a key symptom in this group,” said Dr Rose Penfold from King’s College London.
Dr Penfold concluded: “Doctors and carers should watch out for any changes in mental state in elderly people, such as confusion or strange behaviour, and be alert to the fact that this could be an early sign of coronavirus infection.”
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