Bronchitis rose by 50% last week8th January 2009
Cases of people suffering from bronchitis have risen by 50% in the last few days.
The increase, along with a rise of a quarter in the number of flu cases, is putting further pressure on hospitals and family doctors.
The figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners show that cases of acute bronchitis in England and Wales rose from 133.7 per 100,000 at Christmas to 202.3 per 100,000 in the first week of January while incidences of respiratory disease rose over the same period from 478.8 to 637.1.
Flu cases increased from 41.3 per 100,000 people during the Christmas week to 51 per 100,000 in the first week of January.
While the figures are still short of the last official epidemic of 1989-90, they are the worst for almost a decade with the ongoing cold snap partly to blame.
RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said that some bronchitis can end up as pneumonia but he also said he hoped flu and related illness had peaked.
He said: “I think what's happened is that the figures for flu have peaked in most age groups, with a little bit of an increase in the elderly. The flu figures are not desperately high but bronchitis figures have increased a lot.”
The unusually cold weather has also seen a rise in cases of hypothermia among older people. In the last two weeks hospitals have seen an increase in admissions of elderly people, particularly those who are living alone, who have got too cold.
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