Hygiene aside, medical experts claim scrolling on your phone while using the bathroom poses a serious health risk.
Are you reading this article while sitting stationary on the loo? We suggest you put the phone down, finish your business, and wash your hands. While you’re at it, give your device a good wipe-down, too.
Yes, using your mobile phone in the toilet is gross given the faecal particles that escape the loo after each flush (and those moments between wiping and washing) but the physical damage you’re doing to your body in the process might be even worse.
Dr Saurabh Sethi, a gastroenterologist, detailed the serious health consequences in a viral TikTok post.
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“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,” Sethi explained.
“This can lead to issues such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse,” he continued.
Hemorrhoids are enlarged or varicose veins of the anus and rectum and are caused by pressure. They’re painful, as are anal fissures, which are tears or splits in the lining of the anus. Again, these are caused by pressure, straining or constipation.
Then there’s rectal prolapse, which is when part of the rectum bulges out of the anus.
All three of the above are encouraged by prolonged sitting on the toilet, because of the natural reflexes our rectums make when in the poo-ready position.
“There’s a hole in the middle. And so the actual anorectal area is hanging a little bit lower than the part that’s supported — your thighs,” Dr Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist and the author of Gut Renovation, explained to The Washington Post.
“Just by that position, gravity is causing everything to hang a bit, and that is causing pressure on the veins. So even if you’re not straining, if you’re just sitting there thinking of something else, doing something else, there is some pressure being applied to those veins.”
So, how long is too long?
“You generally don’t want to spend more than about on average about 10 minutes,” Dr Raj added.
Now back to the bacteria. It doesn’t discriminate when it comes to time, so your best bet is to leave your device elsewhere in the house when you feel the urge to pass urine or make a bowel movement.
“Studies have found that an average smartphone is dirtier than a public toilet seat, so try avoiding scrolling while on the toilet,” Sethi explained, while Raj said she sees, “a lot of people who get food poisoning or catch different things by not having good hygiene practices in the bathroom.”
“I just think generally speaking, if you’re on the toilet having a bowel movement or trying to have a movement, you shouldn’t be using your fingers on anything else,” she added.
If you refuse to kick the nasty habit, then please, for the love of God, “Have a disinfectant wipe around to clean the phone after you’re done with the business,” Sethi concluded.