Recently, the news broke that England’s Prince Philip had to miss Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration because he was rushed to the hospital with a bladder infection. Although this royal’s illness attracted worldwide attention and best wishes from the Jubilee’s esteemed guests, bladder infections (a type of urinary tract infection, or UTI) are quite common and rarely harmful, especially in women.
In fact, more than half of all women will encounter at least one bladder infection in their lifetime. Women have a shorter urethra than men, providing an easier pathway for bacteria to enter the urinary tract and cause inflammation of the bladder. However, elderly men are more likely to contract a bladder infection as the size of the prostate increases with age.
Such infections are typically caused by E. coli bacteria found in our bodies or sexually transmitted bacteria like chlamydia and mycoplasma. Symptoms may include:
- Persistent need to urinate
- Burning feeling while urinating
- Small and frequent urinations
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Strong, foul-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain for women or rectal pain for men
Fortunately, most bladder infections can be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to complete the entire prescribed dosage as these infections are often recurring. Aside from the discomfort, bladder infections in women are relatively harmless; however, if not properly treated in a timely manner, the bacteria could spread causing serious kidney infection. Because they are less common in men, bladder infections often appear as a result of a more significant underlying health concern, so it is important to consult a doctor if symptoms persist.
Urinary tract infections are somewhat avoidable if the proper precautions are taken:
- Be sure to drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria and ensure frequent urination.
- Wipe front to back after using the bathroom to keep infection away from the urethra
- Empty bladder promptly after intercourse
- Avoid using feminine products that could be potentially irritating to the urethra
Thankfully, the latest reports from a Buckingham Palace spokesperson revealed that Prince Philip has “improved considerably” since he was hospitalized, but he will remain in the hospital a while longer. We wish him the best of luck in his recovery!