Inflammation due to aging increases the risk of pneumonia in seniors and prevents antibiotic treatment from being effective, this according to new research. Dawn Bowdish, lead author, said, “It sounds counterintuitive to limit inflammatory responses during a bacterial infection, but clinical observations and our research indicates anti-bacterial strategies need to be tailored to the age of the patient.”
Low-level inflammation is a natural part of aging but it has been associated with cardiovascular disease, dementia and infections including pneumonia. Normally, inflammation is intended to help fight off infection but in seniors who already have some inflammation it increases more so and doesn’t go away after the infection is gone. Exposure to higher levels of inflammation impairs the white blood cells ability to fight off infection.
The researchers found that higher levels of inflammation in older mice reduced the effectiveness of white blood cells and reducing inflammation in these mice helped improved the effectiveness of white blood cells to fight off infection.
Bowdish concluded, “Our study in mice is consistent with clinical studies that recommend using anti-inflammatories as part of treatment to improve older adults’ defence against pneumonia, and that points to the development of better care.”