Delirium experienced by older people with no other COVID-19 symptoms

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Delirium was a symptom in more than a quarter of older people admitted to emergency departments and eventually diagnosed with COVID-19, according to new research.

A good number of those admitted were asymptomatic, too, meaning for many, delirium was the only symptom they experienced.

And delirium is not a symptom commonly associated with COVID-19.

Published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open late last week, the study revealed that delirium diagnosis was the main presenting symptom for 16 per cent of such patients.

And just under four in 10 of those patients (37 per cent) had no other common COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever or shortness of breath.

The findings suggest that delirium may be a COVID indicator in patients who otherwise do not have any other typical symptoms related to coronavirus infection.

As at 19 November 2020, a total of 27,784 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Australia, including 907 deaths and 25,329 recoveries.

The median age of all cases is 37, and the median age of deaths is 86.

Properly diagnosing COVID-19 is crucial in older patients and the findings should change how healthcare professionals evaluate older patients for possible coronavirus infection.

The researchers say adults aged 65 and over presenting symptoms such as impaired consciousness, disorientation, inattention or disorganised thinking could actually be COVID cases.

“This study demonstrates that delirium is not only a common symptom of COVID-19, but also may be the leading and possibly sole symptom in older persons. Thus, delirium should be considered an important presenting symptom of COVID-19,” said senior study author  Dr Sharon K. Inouye.

The authors also said that delirium was a common symptom in older adults with severe disease who visited an emergency department, yet it went undetected in two-thirds of all cases.

Delirium is also associated with long-term cognitive decline in both surgical and nonsurgical patients.

Have you experienced any of these symptoms lately?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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26 Comments

Total Comments: 26
  1. 0
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    I wonder if they tested for dehydration, lack of salt and underlying urinary tract infections – very common reasons for delirium and confusion in the elderly

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      There would only be a diagnosis of COVID-19 IF they conducted a COVID-19 test. And in the circumstances, with no other apparent COVID-19 symptoms it would be COVID that is overlooked not other things such as dehydration or even UTIs.

    • 0
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      Urinary tract infection is regularly overlooked. I swear to god they’d find Covid in A paper bag if it suited their purpose.

    • 0
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      Mootnell I had a good laugh at your comment ‘I swear to god they’d find Covid in a paper bag if it suited their purpose’ it made my day. I do know one place it ain’t and that is on all those dirty recycled masks people are wearing and constantly touching all the time and definately not on those dirty masks people are discarding all over the ground in public places .

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      I like to give credit to the experts. I am sure that ED doctors order all the necessary tests.

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      I’m surprised, they didn’t blame it on smoking.
      What infections cause delirium?
      Overall, the most common causes of delirium are the following: Drugs, particularly drugs with anticholinergic effects, psychoactive drugs, and opioids. Dehydration. Infections, such as pneumonia, a bloodstream infection (sepsis), infections that affect the whole body or cause a fever, and urinary tract infections

  2. 0
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    Associated delirium with Covid 19 is a bit of a stretch. Could also be that long fingers are a symptom.

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      Delerium may be a newly recognised symptom, but brain fog even in young people is now well known as a symptom of COVID-19 and more so in those apparently recovered but still with the effects some weeks and months after the fact.

      It is clear that COVID-19 does have an effect on the brain even in otherwise asymptomatic and young people. There is still much more we need to learn about this virus and its many presentations.

    • 0
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      Actually Al, the association between delirium and Covid-19 is by no means ‘a bit of a stretch’. In the elderly, delirium is often the first symptom of any infection, such as cold, flu or UTI, and and it will most likely be the same with Covid-19. Of course one has to be able to differentiate between a temporary delirium and other long term cognitive impairments.

  3. 0
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    I think i was born with delirium…..only joking. Quite right Wicked

  4. 0
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    I went to the UK in late September 2019. When I arrived I had all the symptoms of covid 19. I was so lucky as my doctor gave me my usual medication for small airway disease to take with me. I had to buy a steamer and nebuliser to help me breath. The doctor had given me steroids, antibiotics and script for my regular inhalers. I think covid as been around a lot earlier then we think. I did have a lot of layovers eg china airport.

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      Coronavirus’s were first Identified in the 1960’s and to date they have never been able to produce a vaccine for them. Oh, that is until now!!! We have been living with coronavirus’s for that long but this one according to Mr Gates needs to be eradicated with a vaccine not medication or a strong immune system but with a ‘one of a kind 100% safe vaccine’ that will be safe for everyone babies, children, old, sick and healthy. Isn’t it amazing how they have all of a sudden produced a one size fits all vaccine (preventative medicine) that is although having not gone through years of testing for long term effects or any affects for that matter being produced.

      I still have not got an answer from anyone on how come Vaccines are the only medication that big pharma can produce that is 100% safe for all but can’t produce any other medication over the counter or prescribed that are 100% for all to use, babies, children, old, sick and healthy.

    • 0
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      Jan unless you were specifically tested for COVID-19 there is no way you could possibly make a diagnosis. Back in September COVID had not even been identified in China so it is highly unlikely you would have had it in September. The first identifiable case in China dates from 17 November. There are many respiratory infections that could have accounted for your symptoms not just the COVID virus.

      And for the record, antibiotics do not work on viruses!

  5. 0
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    As usual a few experts here who are very ready to dismiss a carefully researched finding in favour of Pete Evans style conspiracy rubbish. So funny if it wasn’t so sad. Guess people want something to believe in 😛

  6. 0
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    Had enough of all this B/S.Every couple of days these Criminals come out with another outrageous claim about this Scamdemic all designed to keep the brainwashed Sheep living in a constant state of terror.

    • 0
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      Truly! MILLIONS have been diagnosed with the virus, and many thousands have died and you call this a scam????
      Unfortunately not enough people take it seriously enough to take sensible precautions – suggesting they aren’t living in terror at all.

    • 0
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      OMG Steff is still pushing this conspiracy barrow. It’s older than Covid itself by now 😛

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      Steff, deaths from Covid 19 worldwide stand at 1.39 million. How many extra deaths would you require to accept that this virus is real and deadly to many?

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      Funny that the Flu has virtually dissapeared worldwide this year and that annual flu deaths equate to this years Covid deaths.
      ITS A CRIMINAL “SCAM”

    • 0
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      Steff, flu has as you say virtually disappeared this year. Why?

      Well, there is a combination of things; far more people were vaccinated this year than in a normal year (likely because although the flu vax does not prevent COVID-19, there is no way anyone would want to risk getting both infections), social distancing – people have not been in as close proximity as they would have been pre-COVID thereby limiting the transmission through close contact, people have adopted far better hand hygiene with the use of copious amounts of hand sanitiser and hand washing and finally, social distancing (with or without mask-wearing), staying away from other people means that aerosol contamination is less likely.

      So yes Steff, there is far less flu this year worldwide. That does not mean that COVID-19 is a scam. It means that all the public health initiatives that have been adopted to limit its spread are the same public health initiatives that stop other respiratory infections. The fact that despite these precautions COVID-19 has had such a devastating effect in some countries just goes to show how virulent it is.

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      All these so called precautions have hd Bugger all effect on anything.If tuth be known all that all this sanitising and mask wearing has done is a huge amount of damage to peoples immune systems.All a big fraud to make it easier for the Elite Phsychopaths behind this scam to usher in the Great reset,But uou blind fools think tha that is a Conspiracy theory even though they are rubbing your faces in it

  7. 0
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    You are right KSS antibiotics don’t cure viruses. My doctor said the virus antibodies may not last long in your body either.

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      Jan the latest research on COVID-19 antibodies is showing that the body may be able to recognise the COVID-19 virus and activate the immune response for much longer than first thought. True antibodies decline quite rapidly, but the T cells and C cells may still be able to recognise the virus for up to a year. It is not yet known how long but it is another reason that people are excited about the vaccine. The current leading vaccines seem to be inducing an even better immune response than natural infection even in older people. It remains to be seen how long immunity will last after vaccination.

  8. 0
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    Thank you KSS for the info. I won’t be having the vaccine, very sensitive to medications and anaesthetics. Almost died after a anaesthetic. I will practice strict precautions and will not be going to any more crowded concerts etc.

  9. 0
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    The most important thing for all researchers is to get your report published. That is what appears to be the major factor here.
    This is really clutching at straws. Delirium appears to be the significant symptom in 16% of diagnosed cases. A review of the “commonly accepted” symptoms shows that there don’t appear to be any.
    According to figures published for Queensland, less than 1% of those presented for testing have tested positive. (Remember that before they will test you, you must show at least four of the recognised symptoms – temperature, cough, headache, breathing difficulty, general malaise, sniffles.) Of these, less than 5% have gone on to require medical intervention.
    Australia wide, those who have had their death attributed to Covid-19 have come from a very narrow cohort (as indicated by the median age at death).
    Delirium can be caused by a great range of factors as others here have said.

  10. 0
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    Delirium was a symptom of fever in a lot of childhood illnesses when we were young. Probably still a symptom of fever in a lot of infections at any age. Nothing unique to Covid.


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