Public health experts have warned against spending too much time on toilet seats, noting that it could lead to debilitating medical conditions due to the pressure exerted on the anus and rectum by the act.
According to them, the amount of time spent on a toilet seat should not exceed 10 minutes.
They noted that sitting on toilet seats for too long can cause bowel diseases such as hemorrhoids, appendicitis, polyps, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and colon cancer.
Many people regard the toilet literally as a comfort zone where they can get away from the flurry of activities at home, read books, get their thoughts together, surf the internet, and to also make discreet calls.
Experts, however, warned that no matter how logical the reasons might appear, it is dangerous and potentially harmful to the human body.
Speaking exclusively with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Public Health, Haroun Isah, and a Public Health Physician, Dr. Paul King, said spending too much time in the toilet could increase an individual’s risk of developing a common bowel disease known as hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed veins in the rectum and anus that causes discomfort and bleeding.
According to Mayo Clinic, an online medical platform, hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins.
It noted that hemorrhoids can develop inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).
Mayo Clinic highlighted symptoms of both internal and external haemorrhoids to include itching or irritation in the anal region, pain or discomfort, swelling around the anus and painless bleeding during bowel movements.
Meanwhile, the medical experts warned that even if a toilet appears to be clean, it is still an unhygienic place as it harbours germs.
Prof. Isah, who is also the Deputy Provost, College of Medicine & Health Sciences, Bingham University, Jos Campus, said the longer a person sits on a toilet seat, the more blood gets accumulated in the rectal veins and causes hemorrhoids.
He said, “Spending too much time on the toilet exerts pressure on a person’s rectum and anus. Because the seat is cut out, the rectum is lower than the rest of the backside. Gravity takes over, and blood starts to pool and clot in those veins. Adding any strain or pushing out faeces would set in motion the process of developing hemorrhoids.
“The sitting position while performing bodily functions may be the cause of bowel diseases such as hemorrhoids, appendicitis, polyps, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and colon cancer. Studies have shown that Western countries have much higher rates of colon and pelvic diseases.”
On how best to maintain proper hygiene when using the toilet, Prof. Isah said, “It is all about hygiene and cleanliness. Don’t leave faeces on the floor or in the toilet. Flush the toilet after use and avoid the use of phone while in the toilet.”
In the same vein, Dr. King also warned against prolonged stay in the toilet, stressing that it increases the risk of getting infections and being exposed to harmful germs.
He said, “Prolonged stay in the toilet is a risk factor for hemorrhoid or pile development. You also risk picking up infections and germs that can spread.
“When you stay too long in the toilet, you can get faecal-oral which is known as a disease that can be passed through the mouth. The person can also get infections like gastroenteritis, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis.”
On the danger posed by the aforementioned infections, Dr. king said, “Some of these infections may ultimately result in sepsis, a serious health condition that develops when germs overwhelm the blood.
“A large portion of faecal gases are harmless, however, constituents of stool breakdown like methane reduce oxygen constituent of air and make breathing difficult and cause mental exhaustion. Hydrogen sulfide present in trace quantity may irritate mucosal surfaces like the eyes and respiratory tract. These are in very uncommon circumstances and in prolonged excessive exposure.