Since the days of Thomas Crapper, the throne room has been the crowning glory in all homes across the nation.
It’s a place to ponder the meaning of life or browse social media at your leisure while you use the facilities. Your time on the toilet is yours to do with what you wish.
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But be warned, lingering on the loo for too long could lead to a real medical sh*tstorm.
A prolapsed rectum, no less.
Dr Eleanor Atkins, a general surgeon from Bupa UK, told UNILAD:
Sitting on the toilet puts lots of pressure on your pelvic floor, especially if you strain to produce a bowel movement.
This can lead to weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and eventually there is a risk of a rectal prolapse. Pressure damage is also a concern, especially if you’re immobile or elderly.
Sh*t you not.
Just ask the guy in Southeast China who was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night after noticing his rectum fell out of his body.
The man, who shock horror remained nameless, explained to the doctor he’d been sitting on the toilet using his phone for half an hour while he was trying to poop.
This is a rectal prolapse, as explained to UNILAD by Dr Atkins:
A rectal prolapse is when part of your rectum sticks out through your anus. You’re likely to notice a lump or swelling coming out of your bottom.
You might also find it difficult to control your bowel movements, have some bright red blood coming out of your rectum or have some discomfort.
The examining doctor found a massive lump – measuring 16 centimetres (16.3 inches) long – sticking out of his anus, which had to be removed through surgery.
The patient said he had spent over half an hour on his phone playing games in the toilet at home in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province on February 4.
Dr Su Dan, of the Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University said the man was diagnosed with a rectal prolapse, in which the end of the intestines lose their attachment within the body and fall out.
The doctor also said the patient’s situation was particularly severe. The patient had suffered rectal prolapse since he was four years old.
The bulge was able to retract, but he did not treat the condition and the situation got worse. Medical scans show a ‘ball-shaped’ bulge emerging from the anus, as well as bruises and blood spots along the patient’s intestinal wall.
Surgeons were able to remove the lump and the man is now recovering. Rectal prolapse is more common among children or elderly patients, but this condition was worsened by the delay in the descent of the prolapse.
Dr Atkins continued:
Why certain people develop a rectal prolapse isn’t yet fully understood, but it’s often associated with weak muscles in your pelvis. This can be triggered by constipation, diarrhoea, chronic cough or pregnancy as well.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above or worried about anything similar, you should speak with your doctor. Whilst you may feel embarrassed, it’s important to get them checked out.
Dr Su thought the cause of the descent of the prolapse this time was the long duration spent in the toilet trying to poo as it weakens the muscles in the pelvis.
Speaking to UNILAD about the occurrence, Dr Atkins explained swelling of the rectal veins that can ultimately lead to bleeding and possibly even rectal prolapse, sometimes sparked by prolonged pressure on those veins produces.
However, she adds, it’s not always necessary to treat haemorrhoids – or piles – especially if they’re not causing anything more than a small amount of bleeding.
Dr Atkins, who has a year’s experience in colorectal surgery, added:
The exact cause of haemorrhoids is unclear, but they’re associated with increased pressure in the blood vessels in and around your anus.
This pressure may be caused by pregnancy, constipation or being overweight. Chronic diarrhoea, chronic cough and sitting down for long periods of time can also increase your risk of getting haemorrhoids.
Piles are swollen blood vessels just inside your back passage.
They are not painful in themselves, and rarely cause any symptoms. They can cause itching or a mucus discharge. If the haemorrhoids are quite big, they can hang outside the back passage (these are called prolapsed haemorrhoids).
This can feel like a lump around the area, which can usually be pushed back inside. If you look in the mirror, it can look like a bunch of grapes.
As piles sound like something everyone wants to avoid, no matter how enthralling your WhatsApp group chat, Dr Atkins said they’re pretty preventable.
All you need to do is ‘keep your bowels regular and soft’ by drinking plenty of water, keeping active and eating foods that are rich in fibre such as beans, brown rice and nuts.
Beans for tea tonight, then.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.