Most people spend time sitting on the toilet out of boredom, or as a way to enjoy some alone time – but did you know that prolonged loo breaks may pose health risks?
According to a recent survey, Brits spend an average of three and a half hours on the toilet a week, with most blaming this duration on relaxation and hygiene.
Spending long periods of time on the loo can cause pressure to mount inside the rectum and anus, increasing the risk of haemorrhoids, warns a health expert.
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Haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels that you can get inside or around your anus; they are usually visible to the eye, especially when accompanied by a blood clot.
They have been linked to chronic constipation, as well as excessive straining during bowel movements.
Spending too much time on the toilet may also interfere with blood flow to and from the area.
Health and wellbeing expert Stephanie Taylor, the founder of StressNoMore, said: “While you might enjoy sitting on the toilet, reading the newspaper or scrolling through social media, this could be damaging your rectum.
“When you sit there, with your anus at a different level than the rest of your bottom half, this puts extra pressure on the veins in your lower rectum, which could eventually lead to haemorrhoids that can be uncomfortable and result in rectal bleeding."
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She continued: “Avoid sitting on the toilet for too long at a time. Instead only sit for as long as you have the urge to go and, if nothing is happening, get up and do something else.
“According to a study, it should only take five minutes to open your bowel and if you have been sitting for longer than 15 minutes, with no bowel movement, this might indicate that you are constipated.”
Complications from haemorrhoids are uncommon, but they do exist.
One complication associated with the condition is anaemia, which is characterised by a lack of healthy blood cells.
Because blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, it can cause symptoms like tiredness and heavy periods.
Haemorrhoids can sometimes lead to blood clots, this is medically known as thrombosed haemorrhoids.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “Occasionally, a clot can form in a haemorrhoid. Although not dangerous, it can be extremely painful and sometimes needs to be lanced and drained.”
Other measures to help prevent haemorrhoids include eating a high-fibre diet, and drinking more fluids.
Health professionals also recommend going to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge, as waiting could cause stool to dry, making it harder to pass.
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