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Objective: Elderly individuals were more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many complications, changes in tongue epithelial cells, and salivary gland dysfunction are associated with COVID-19. This study aimed to explore oral problems and related factors in elderly COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in an intensive care unit.
Material and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted with 86 individuals aged ≥ 65 years who received treatment for COVID-19 in the intensive care unit of a state hospital in western Turkey between May and November 2021. Patient’s demographic characteristics, chronic diseases, nutritional status, fluid intake, vital signs, and presence of secretion, intubation status, oxygen therapy, and blood biochemistry tests were evaluated. Eilers’ Oral Assessment Guide was used for oral assessment. The data were analysed using t-tests, one-way ANOVAs, Cox regression analysis, and Kaplan−Meier test.
Results: The mean age of the participants was 72.93±7.91 years, and 60.5% of them were male. The mean length of stay in the intensive care unit was 8.55±6.54 days. Of the participants, 41.9% were intubated and 80.2% had at least one chronic disease. The mean Oral Assessment Guide score of the participants was 11.43±2.03, and 31.4% of them showed limited salivary secretion. There were significant differences between the mean Oral Assessment Guide score and length of stay, body mass index, intubation, continuous positive airway pressure treatment, presence of secretion, aspiration status, type of nutrition, and activated partial thromboplastin time value.
Conclusion: Our results indicated that elderly COVID-19 patients, who were intubated, received continuous positive airway pressure treatment, had a body mass index of ≥ 35 kg/m2, received total parenteral nutrition, and had blood coagulation problems demonstrated an increased risk of deterioration of the oral mucous membrane as their length of stay in the intensive care unit increased.
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