Camilla health: Duchess was left ‘coughing and spluttering’ due to ongoing viral infection

Camilla's Country Life documentary trailer from ITV

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Despite her duty as a member of the royal family, many forget that the Duchess is 74 years of age, which automatically made her more vulnerable to Covid when she contracted it shortly after her husband, Prince Charles, did at the beginning of the year. After testing positive for the virus, despite being triple vaccinated, the Duchess initially suffered from no symptoms, but following a three-week battle trying to “shake off” the infection, the royal admitted that she was left battling some specific symptoms of long Covid.

“It’s taken three weeks and still can’t get shot of it,” Camilla exclaimed towards the end of March 2022.

It was reported at the time that the royal was left battling a slight cough following her Covid infection.

She added: “Probably my voice might suddenly go, and I might start coughing and spluttering.”

Taking some time to “pace herself” following testing positive, the Duchess was forced to cancel some royal engagements including an event connected to the Commonwealth Games.

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Speaking about the toll that firstly Covid then long Covid has had on the senior royal, newspaper editor Charlotte Griffiths spoke candidly about Camilla’s work ethic.

She said: “With Harry and Meghan leaving, it means there is a lot more work on her plate.

“She has a reputation for being worked harder and in recent years she’s worked her socks off. She does engagement after engagement.

“She’s got long Covid, it’s pretty bad actually and standing on your heels all day.

“Poor Camilla, she doesn’t have room to fall apart because it’s a relentless schedule and it’s a reminder of how hard the Queen has been working all these years.”

As of May 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated 1.8 million people in private households in the UK were experiencing self-reported long Covid. Since then, statistics have hit two million, with individuals experiencing symptoms for more than four weeks after the first Covid infection.

There are numerous symptoms that individuals can suffer from following Covid, but the NHS lists the following as the most common:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • Rashes.

The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill an individual is the first time they get Covid.

In fact, in the same way that people with Covid experience a range of symptoms that can vary from person to person, those with long Covid often report different complications arising from the chronic health issue.
Similarly to Camilla’s case, around 2.5 percent of individuals suffer from a persistent cough up to a year after suffering from Covid.

The NHS explains that infections similar to Covid can leave individuals with a lingering dry cough as their lungs are irritated. When something “foreign” is detected in the respiratory tract, a reflex is triggered to cause a cough, which should clear the irritant away. Despite this being an efficient protective mechanism, it is also one of the main ways in which Covid spreads from person to person.

GP Natash Yates, Assistant Professor, General Practice, Bond University wrote a piece back in March 2022 listing four main reasons as to why a cough persists following the infectious period of Covid.

These four reasons all involved inflammatory issues and included the following:

  • If the upper airways (nasal passages and sinuses) stay inflamed, the fluid produced drips down the back of your throat causing a “post-nasal drip”. This makes you feel the need to “clear your throat”, swallow and/or cough.

  • If the lungs and lower airways are affected, coughing is the body’s way of trying to clear the fluid and swelling it senses there. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of fluid (so the cough is “dry”), but the swelling of the lung tissue still triggers a cough.
  • The neural pathways may be where inflammation is lurking. This means the nervous system is involved, either centrally (the brain) and/or peripherally (nerves), and the cough isn’t primarily from the respiratory tissues themselves.
  • A less common but more serious cause may be the lung tissue being scarred from the inflammation, a condition called “interstitial lung disease”. This needs to be diagnosed and managed by respiratory specialists.

For those dramatically affected by long Covid, medical professionals may be able to give advice about how to manage and monitor symptoms.

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