Gastrointestinal infections among the elderly

R. G. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Gastrointestinal infections are among the most common causes of illness among older adults. Most are self-limited, and related to food poisoning or viral infection. Particularly in institutional settings such as nursing homes, outbreaks of gastrointestinal infections can rapidly spread and lead to hospitalizations and deaths. Epidemiological data from the developed world show that the risk of death from diarrhoeal diseases is higher among those of advanced age than among children. Site-specific bacterial gastrointestinal infections related to anatomic abnormalities, for example, gallstone cholecystitis or diverticulitis, also have an increasing age-related incidence. Other less common infections which disproportionately effect the elderly may result from the subtle immunodeficiencies associated with aging, or more likely, as complications of other therapies, for example, oesophageal candidiasis following antibiotic treatment or chemotherapy. This chapter will provide an overview of the most common gastrointestinal infections among the elderly, particularly focusing on those which result in diarrhoea and dehydration. Preventive and therapeutic interventions for these illnesses will be reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalBailliere's Clinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


  • Antibiotic associated diarrhoea
  • Clostridium difficile colitis
  • Diarrhoea
  • Food poisoning
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pseudomembranous colitis
  • Traveller's diarrhoea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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