Aetiology of Respiratory Tract Infections in Adults in Europe: Current Knowledge and Knowledge Gaps

  • Ingo BeyerEmail author
Part of the Practical Issues in Geriatrics book series (PIG)


Respiratory diseases represent the third most common cause of death in Europe, including both chronic lower respiratory diseases and pneumonia, while lower respiratory infections remain the most deadly communicable disease. With worldwide population ageing, it is expected that the burden of infections such as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) will continue to increase in the coming years, with the vast majority of deaths occurring among those aged 65 years or more. A wide range of host factors are involved in the aetiology of respiratory tract infections, including anatomical and functional changes that occur with ageing. In addition, atypical presentation of symptoms in the elderly can often make the diagnosis of respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, more difficult in older adults. Also, identifying the pathogens responsible for infection can often be difficult, with no benefit to be yielded from systematic microbiological sampling. Vaccination is an important measure to prevent pneumococcal diseases and influenza in older adults and to reduce mortality from these diseases.


Lower respiratory tract infections Pneumococcal pneumonia Influenza Aetiology Pathogen Vaccination Elderly 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geriatric MedicineUZ Brussel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)BrusselsBelgium

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