Unless you’re recording yourself belting out a few tunes with the shower head in one hand and smartphone in the other, do put your mobile device away when using the bathroom.
As bizarre as it sounds, prolonged use of your smartphone while on the toilet seat contributes to haemorrhoids, otherwise known as piles.
What are haemorrhoids?
There are two types of haemorrhoids – internal and external. Internal haemorrhoids occur along the rectal lining which entails typical symptoms such as pain-free rectal bleeding.
External haemorrhoids refers to the protrusion of haemorrhoid tissues outside of the anus, which may cause severe discomfort and bleeding.
Haemorrhoids are caused by the displacement of cushions of blood vessels underlying the anal wall lining. Typically, these cushions contribute to continence and help with stool control during defecation.
There are several factors that can cause these cushions to become inflamed or swollen, leading to its protrusion.
The most common cause of this condition is excessive straining during defecation. Long-term straining causes the supporting tissues of the anal cushions to disintegrate.
Dato’ Dr Meheshinder Singh, consultant general and colorectal surgeon at Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, says that in addition to straining there are several other factors that can also lead to the formation of haemorrhoids.
This includes ageing, pregnancy, constipation, lifting heavy objects and of course, our title point:
Prolonged use of your mobile phone while sitting on the toilet seat
This behaviour is widely known as the Toilet Newspaper Syndrome and can definitely put you at risk of developing haemorrhoids. It is described as prolonged time spent on the toilet seat due to the presence of reading material.
While the newspaper is not as popular as it once was, this behaviour still persists due to the smartphone.
If your news feed and video stream don’t keep you glued to your toilet seat, the myriad of entertaining apps surely will.
Dr Meheshinder suggests refraining from bringing any gadget, especially your smartphone, into the toilet.
How bad can piles get?
Most Malaysians are ashamed to seek help due to the personal and private nature of the condition. This leads to delay in diagnosis and increases the risk of developing unwanted complications.
These complications include blockages in the haemorrhoid vessels, called thrombosis, leading to excruciating pain; chronic bleeding and chronic anal fissure.
Furthermore, skin tags associated with external haemorrhoids may be difficult to clean, resulting in prolonged contact of the perianal skin with toxic faecal material, causing local irritation and increased risk of perianal infections.
When do you seek treatment?
Pain and bleeding are usually the main signs to seek medical help. Those aged 45 and above are encouraged to undergo a proctoscopy examination to rule out the possibility of more serious conditions such as cancer.
A proctoscope is a short tube carrying a camera which is inserted into the anus and presents a visual of the rectal cavity.
The doctor will take notes on your medical history, previous conditions and conduct a physical examination.
Other tests and procedures such as a colonoscopy or a stool test may also be conducted depending on the findings.
Prevention is better than cure
Datin Mariani Ahmad Nizaruddin, Vice President of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society says that low fibre or unbalanced diet also contributes to the formation of haemorrhoids.
She stresses the importance of introducing more fibre and water into your diet to avoid constipation, a known cause of haemorrhoids.
She also highlights that the habit of using topical medication to manage the pain instead of seeing a doctor leads to inadequate and sub-optimal management of the condition.
Like most conditions, haemorrhoids can be managed with a lifestyle change and the use of certain procedures and medications.
There are effective pharmacological treatments you can use to subdue a worsening haemorrhoid condition by significantly reducing inflammation and stabilising blood circulation in the tissues.
The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.