News / Health

Doctors say Treating Lung Infections in Elderly Patients is Problematic

Treating Lung Infections in Elderly Patients Raises Many Issuesi
X
June 25, 2013 11:10 AM
Former South African president Nelson Mandela entered the hospital on June 8 with a lung infection. For a while, his doctors said he was improving. But on Sunday, they said his condition had become critical. VOA's Carol Pearson spoke with a specialist about treating elderly patients who have recurring lung infections.

Treating Lung Infections in Elderly Patients Raises Many Issues

Carol Pearson
Former South African president Nelson Mandela entered the hospital on June 8 with a lung infection. For a while, his doctors said he was improving. But on Sunday, they said his condition had become critical. Recurring lung infections is a serious medical condition in elderly patients and it raises many issues for doctors as well as families.   

South Africans and admirers around the world expressed their feelings for Nelson Mandela, also known by his clan name of Madiba, the man identified with transforming South Africa from white minority rule to a multiracial democracy.

"It's very emotional, and I feel for my children. This is very important for them to feel what an amazing man Madiba was and is to all of us," said a woman in Johannesburg,  

But some South Africans also believe "It's time to let him go." 

Mandela suffered from lung infections during his 27 years in prison under apartheid. The infections he has had over the past few years are commonly called "pneumonia," whether they're caused by a virus or a bacteria. 

What makes his condition more serious is that repeated infections can weaken an elderly patient's lungs.

"Those bacteria are often much more aggressive. Often they are more resistant to antibiotics because, over the years, elderly people will have had more exposure to antibiotics and will have selected out resistant and stronger strains," explained Dr. Bohdan Pichurko, who is with the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Pichurko said treatments for the young are not always good for the elderly.

"Illness such as pneumonia puts stress on other organ systems. And so we worry about worsening diabetes, kidney function, liver function.  Many of those can deteriorate when we are doing our best to treat a respiratory infection," he said. 

Although some people have said Mandela should be allowed to die, Dr. Pichurko said the decision to end treatment is never easy.  

"The best decision is made in partnership between patient and doctor.  The doctor is ethically obligated at some point, if that point is reached, to indicate when medical treatment may be futile," he explained.

Dr. Pichurko added that age is a factor, but only a minor one.  Some people are healthy at 95. Others are not.  For the elderly, it's important to try and prevent exposure to viruses or certain bacteria. And if an infection does occur, to get good medical care within 48 hours.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid