Tuberc Respir Dis.  2001 Oct;51(4):334-345. 10.4046/trd.2001.51.4.334.

Clinical Features of Pulmonary Tuberculosis In The Elderly

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Pulmonary tuberculosis(TB) is still prevalent and remains a significant clinical problem for the elderly. However, the disease presents in many ways, and there are frequent adverse drug reactions that may prevent the early diagnosis and treatment of elderly TB patients compared to the young. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not there are any differences in the clinical feature of pulmonary tuberculosis(TB) in both the diagnosis and treatment between the young (less than 64 years) and the elderly (65 years and more).
METHODS
The medical records of 125 young and 70 elderly pulmonary TB patients, who were diagnosed with and treated for pulmonary TB at the Seoul Municipal Boramae Hospital from November 1991 to January 1997, were analyzed retrospectively.
RESULTS
Anorexia(12% vs. 31.4%), general weakness (20.0% vs. 54.3%), dyspnea(21.6% vs. 37.1%) and an abnormal mentality (0.8% vs. 15.7%) were more frequent presenting symptoms in elderly TB patients, whereas hemoptysis (32.8% vs. 10.0%) and fever (BT>37℃ 58.4% vs. 35.7%) were more frequent in the young. The elderly had a higher number of cardiovascular and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases as underlying illnesses. In chest PA, there were no differences in the location of the TB lesion, but the appearances were initially diagnosed more frequently as pneumonia or lung cancer (8.8% vs. 30.0%, p<0.05) in the elderly. There was no difference in the detection rate of acid fast bacilli(AFB) in the sputum between the two groups. There were no differences in the treatment response and follow-up loss. However, adverse drug reactions (13.6% vs. 45.7%, p<0.05), and changes in medication (4.9% vs. 25.7%, p<0.05) during treatment occurred more frequently in the elderly. One among the 125 young patients died from tuberculosis whereas 6 among the 70 elderly patients died from the disease.
CONCLUSION
Because the clinical and radiological presentations were more atypical, a sputum AFB smear and culture should be done immediately in the elderly who are TB. The elderly experienced more frequent adverse drug reactions and mortality during treatment, but the response to treatment was good and rapid.

Keyword

Pulmonary tuberculosis; Young; Elderly; Clinical feature
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