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Thailand's royal palace says 87-year-old king is recovering from excess fluid in the brain

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BANGKOK — Thailand's royal palace announced Monday that 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is recovering from several ailments, including excess fluid in the brain and difficult breathing due to congested lungs.

The Royal Household said that a scan performed earlier this year found an increased level of fluid in the king's brain, but others in July and August showed the level had started to decrease.

It said the latest checkup and X-ray showed that an inflammation found earlier in the king's chest had disappeared, his heartbeat was back to normal and his breathing was close to normal. The statement said the king had been given medicines to dissolve mucus in his chest, which was now being treated with physical therapy.

Last October, he had his gallbladder removed.

The king has rarely left a Bangkok hospital that has become his residence since he was admitted in 2009 with what was said to be a lung inflammation. His general absence from public affairs has spurred concern about the eventual royal succession.

Most Thais hold great affection for Bhumibol, who was crowned on May 5, 1950, after coming to the throne in 1946 following the death of his elder brother.

While he is a constitutional monarch with no formal political role, Bhumibol has been widely revered and is generally regarded as the country's unifying figure. The heir apparent, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, does not command the same respect and affection as the king.

Open discussion of the monarchy is constrained by a strict lese majeste law that makes criticism of the royal family punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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