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Should We Be Worried About The Queen’s Health?

Yesterday, Buckingham Palace said that Her Majesty The Queen was unable to attend a Commonwealth church service at Westminster Abbey as she is still recovering from a bout of gastroenteritis which first began to trouble her over 11 days ago.

The Express newspaper reported this morning that there was ‘concern for The Queen’s health’. Is this an exaggeration? We take a look at the facts of gastroenteritis and just how serious it is.

Doctors advised the 86-year-old Monarch yesterday that she may not be able to tolerate the hour’s service at Westminster Abbey. There is no doubt The Queen greeted this information with reluctancy in having to cancel seeing as she rarely does and doesn’t like to do so.

Yesterday, however, Her Majesty did turn up to a Commonwealth meeting at Marlborough house where she signed a radical new charter enforcing the need for equality in Commonwealth countries.

Reporters noted her looking slightly pale as she gave her speech to the assembled people, though in actual fact, wo noted Her Majesty looking rather okay (or at least not so bad as one might notice on first greeting).


In England, the two most common causes of gastroenteritis in adults are the norovirus and food poisoning. The infection interferes with one of the main functions of the intestines – the absorption of water from the contents of your intestines into the body. This is why the most common symptom of gastroenteritis is watery diarrhoea and why dehydration (a lack of water in the body) is such a common complication.

Most types of gastroenteritis are highly infectious. The condition is mainly spread when bacteria found in faeces are transferred to the mouth. Bacteria can be transferred through poor hygiene. For example, if someone does not wash their hands after going to the toilet, any viruses or bacteria on their hands will be transferred to whatever they touch, such as a glass, kitchen utensil or food. If you touch the contaminated object and then touch your face, or if you eat contaminated food, you may become infected by the virus or bacteria. Once infected, you will have the symptoms of gastroenteritis, such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

Most people with gastroenteritis only have mild symptoms and the infection passes after a few days without the need for treatment. However, one may need treatment in hospital if your symptoms are severe, or if you are vulnerable because of your age or another illness. This is because diarrhoea can quickly cause dehydration which, if severe, can be fatal. The dangers of dehydration mean that it is very important to replace fluids that are lost through vomiting and diarrhoea. You should drink at least 2 litres (3.5 pints) of water a day, plus 200ml (a third of a pint) of water after every episode of diarrhoea.

What’s The Queen’s Risk?

Well, the risk to Her Majesty’s long term health is low; this is essentially just an ordinary ‘run-of-the-mill’ virus which has happened to hit an elderly lady (hence the admission to hospital). The Palace have already said The Queen is at least on the road to recovery and we should see the return of The Queen to public duties very soon.

photo credit: University Hospitals Birmingham via photopin cc
Information Source: NHS Choices

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