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Coronavirus: Atypical symptoms for older adults

Written by Diane Archer

It seems that the novel coronavirus causes atypical symptoms in older adults. Judith Graham reports for Kaiser Health News on how these unusual symptoms can make it hard for older adults to get diagnosed with COVID-19 and to get the treatment they need in a timely fashion.

Most people with COVID-19 symptoms from the novel coronavirus have coughs, fever and shortness of breath. They might also lose their sense of smell and taste. And, COVID-19 appears to cause heart problems in about one in five people.

Older adults might not have any of these typical symptoms. Rather, older adults with COVID-19 might sleep a lot or might feel weak. They might stop eating. Some get confused. They might not be able to speak. Or, they might experience abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

For the health care provider, the question is whether these symptoms are related to changes in our lives and displacement or to COVID-19 directly. Routines have changed. Caregivers may have changed. Older adults might not be taking their medicines as prescribed.

The Washington Post reports yet another likely COVID-19 symptom, “frostbite” toes and other rashes. Some people experience a burning sensation. But, the rash is harmless and usually disappears within a few weeks without treatment.

Older adults who might have COVID-19 should be tested early on, so that they get treatment as quickly as possible. But, sometimes doctors and other health care professionals do not recognize the symptoms in older adults, especially if the older adults are not coughing and do not have fevers. If there’s any chance you or someone you care for could have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, call the doctor.

Here’s more from Just Care:



  • Disappointed the cost of healthcare article did not cover the cost savings of a true Medicare for All as proposed by Bernie Sanders and practiced in every civilized country on this planet. Just covering people who have lost insurance through jobs doesn’t do the trick and is only temporary.

    • Very fair point, Mike. I will try to incorporate that point in as many future posts as possible. Thanks so much for raising it. Diane

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