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Christmas watch over pneumonia

A leading GP respiratory expert has warned GPs to be on the lookout for cases of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in older people over the Christmas period.

Dr Mike Thomas, a GP in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, and a clinical research fellow at the University of

Aberdeen, said death rates from pneumonia peaked during the Christmas and new year holidays.

Dr Thomas, a committee member of the General Practice Airways Group, said older people did not always develop obvious symptoms of CAP including fever, shakes, productive cough and rapid breathing seen in younger patients.

He added: 'The problem facing doctors is that the symptoms of CAP are often non-specific and overlap with more minor and self-limiting conditions such as acute bronchitis.

'Many of the elderly patients do not present themselves early enough and so the condition develops and complications set in.'

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