For the first time in 20 years, 86 year-old Queen Elizabeth failed to attend the annual Commonwealth Day Observance ceremony yesterday, fueling public concern about her health. Her last minute cancellation came on the heels of a "precautionary" stay at the hospital last week when she reportedly endured a bout with gastroenteritis.
According to a statement released yesterday on the official website of the British Monarchy, Her Majesty the Queen "continues to recover following her recent illness."
Gastroenteritis is an irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and sometimes by certain foods. Primary symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, and dehydration frequently results.
According to the National Institute of Health's Medline Plus website, infants, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to become dehydrated.