We might have thought the worst had happened over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee when it rained throughout the pageant along the Thames. But less than 24 hours later, the Duke of Edinburgh has been admitted to hospital with a bladder infection. Women know all about bladder infections - cystitis affects about half of women in a lifetime. Most women recover completely within a couple of days and rarely need hospital admission unless the infection spreads to the kidneys.
In men, urine infections are much less common, especially under the age of 50. However, as men get older, enlargement of the prostate becomes more and more common. By the age of 70, about 8 in 10 men have an enlarged prostate. The Duke of Edinburgh may be in good shape, but he is 90. Around two million men in the UK have symptoms due to an enlarged prostate. The symptoms include blockage to the outflow of urine from the bladder, so urine sits for longer in the bladder. This makes it easier for bacteria to multiply, causing symptoms of infection.
Another complicating factor for urine infections in older people is that while, in younger people, the symptoms - burning and stinging on passing water, low tummy pain, fever - are easy to spot, some older people with urine infections become acutely confused and may get dehydrated. Fortunately, while that means a stay in hospital may be necessary, his symptoms should improve within a couple of days and there is every reason to believe that the Duke will make the speedy recovery we all wish for him.