Most of us don’t like to admit it, but taking our phones into the bathroom to entertain ourselves while on the toilet is something we’re all guilty of (at least occasionally). But aside from the obvious hygienic reasons, there’s now another reason we need to keep our social media scrolling outside the cubicle.
In a viral TikTok video, California-based gastroenterologist Dr Saurabh Sethi revealed that scrolling on your phone while doing your business can bring serious health consequences.
“First, using your phone while doing number two can lead to prolonged sitting on the toilet, which can cause strain and pressure on your rectum and anus,” Dr Sethi explained in the video.
“This can lead to issues such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse,” he added.
According to Mayo Clinic, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum and straining or irritation when passing stool can lead to symptoms like bleeding during bowel movements, pain, discomfort and swelling.
Anal fissures, often confused with hemorrhoids, are tears or cracks in the anus.
But maybe the most serious consequence of using your phone while sitting on your toilet is rectal prolapse, according to Dr Sethi.
Mayo Clinic states that “rectal prolapse happens when one of the large intestine’s lowest section, the rectum, slips outside the muscular opening at the end of the digestive tract known as the anus.”
So how much truth do Dr Sethi’s claims hold? Well, a fair amount, according to General Practitioner Dr Kanita Krishnan.
“Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time is never good,” Dr Krishnan confirmed to Lifehacker. “The reason is that it increases any pressure on the rectal veins which can cause swelling and distension leading to ruptures.”
And dealing with hardened stools can lead to anal fissures. “Repeated straining leads to distended veins,” Dr Krishnan explained.
“Hardened stool passing through areas of distended veins leads to cuts. It can be very painful and become infected and can lead to a fistula or an abscess.”
But the GP also alerted us to another, less obvious, concern tied to this habit: “It is good for our mental health to allow ourselves some mental time from our phones, and toileting should be phone-free.” Very true, tbh.
In addition to these alarming health concerns, Sethi also reiterated the most obvious reason to break this dirty habit: reminding his viewers that the toilet is a “breeding ground for bacteria”.
“Studies have found that an average smartphone is dirtier than a public toilet seat, so try avoiding scrolling while on the toilet,” the medical expert continued.
If you simply can’t part ways with your screen, however, Sethi had one final tip: “If you can’t help it, at least have a disinfectant wipe around to at least clean the phone after you’re done with the business.”
Dr Sethi isn’t the only one to jump on the poop trend on the video-sharing platform — countless other users have shared helpful tips to beat constipation so you can be in and out of the loo, giving you no reason whatsoever to whip out your phone.
For example, Dr Sadovskaya’s viral video with over 26.5 million views and 1.8 million likes, demonstrates that simple sitting on the toilet, crossing one leg over the other and twisting your upper body from side to side, can release the bowels almost instantly.
“I’m pooping rn and it worked bless your soul,” one of the 39.2k commenters wrote in response to the clip.
Guess that user didn’t listen to the warnings about not using your phone on the toilet.
Other helpful videos have recommended alternative remedies like using a step stool, practising diaphragmatic breathing and massaging your stomach.
But of course, simply focusing on eating more fibre (and limiting processed foods), increasing your water intake and incorporating daily movement will always remain the most science-backed ways to help get things moving along quicker inside so you can spend less time squatting (and scrolling) and more time enjoying the things you actually love.
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