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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs