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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid