When assessing instructive COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to control for relevant demographics.
Children tend to develop mild manifestations of the respiratory disease, though the presentation is very similar to that of adult carriers.
In older populations, however, neurodegeneration not only occurs more frequently but it also more reliably determines disease severity. In fact, among this group, mental confusion can even be present without more characteristic symptoms like fever and cough.
According to new observational data published in the journal Age and Ageing, delirium (defined as a sudden disruption of focus and emotional wellness) consistently occurs in COVID-19 patients that require intensive care.
Given how disproportionately the elderly are affected by COVID-19, early identification is key to ensuring one’s complete recovery.
“Frailty, increased vulnerability to physiological stressors, is associated with adverse outcomes. COVID-19 exhibits a more severe disease course in older, co-morbid adults. Awareness of atypical presentations is critical to facilitate early identification,” the authors wrote in the new report.
The new cohort study was premised by self-reported data from hospitalized patients 65 years of age and older, who were admitted to St. Thomas, in London.
The participants were segmented into two groups: the first group included 322 patients and the second comprised 535. Each group featured a co-mixture of fit older patients as well as older patients who were deemed to be frail. Roughly 18% of the pool belonged to the latter.
Medically, frailty is defined as a provisional state of increased vulnerability induced by age-associated decline and cumulative cellular damage. Physicians typically diagnose the condition via the Clinical Frailty Scale.
The researchers determined that the prevalence of probable delirium, fatigue, and shortness of breath was much higher among frail patient samples, even though they exhibited no difference in fever or cough compared to the entire study pool.
Thirty-three percent of frail patients who experienced delirium did not evidence classic COVID-19 symptoms.
The correlation was so strong, the authors are now urging clinicians to appreciate frailty and delirium during the COVID-19 diagnosis process.
“This is the first study demonstrating higher prevalence of probable delirium as a COVID-19 symptom in older adults with frailty compared to other older adults. This emphasizes the need for systematic frailty assessment and screening for delirium in acutely ill older patients in hospital and community settings. Clinicians should suspect COVID-19 in frail adults with delirium,” the authors continued.
Some systems have updated their list of warning signs that signal severe COVID-19 manifestation to reflect findings similar to the ones above:
-Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
-Inability to wake or stay awake
-Bluish lips or face
A recent independently conducted study by a team of researchers at Northwestern Medicine posits that confusion and unresponsiveness shares a robust relationship with COVID-19 morality. The very same study indicated that patients who suffer mental disruption are seven times more likely to die compared to infected patients of normal brain function.
Although most experts recommend those wishing to evaluate the seriousness of their case receive an antibody test, disease severity is becoming increasingly easier to anticipate with the help of symptoms.
These typically appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, irrespective of age, and mild cases more often than not are ignited by the following complications:
-Fever or chills
-Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
-Muscle or body aches
-New loss of taste or smell