Research conducted by experts at the Yale School of Medicine suggests some seniors have an overactive immune response, which can have an negative impact on retirement living.
The researchers discovered that exaggerated responses by the immune systems of some elderly people could be responsible for certain health problems like viral infections.
The risk of dying from such an infection increases with age, say the scientists.
Since aging evidently impairs immunity, the researchers proceeded by infecting young, middle-aged and old mice with the herpes virus. The team then examined the livers of these mice and found that only those belonging to the aged mice were damaged.
When the scientists inhibited interleukin 17, an inflammatory mediator, in the older mice, the subjects no longer showed liver damage. "Aged mice do have defective immune responses, but instead of trying to boost their immune response, we should try to inhibit certain inflammatory pathways to prevent susceptibility to viral infections," said Dr Daniel Goldstein, the team's leader.
The Mayo Clinic says viruses enter the body and begin controlling the functions of cells in order to produce more and more of the sickness. Antibiotics are ineffective against these pathogens.