Unless you’re recording yourself belting a few show tunes with the shower head in one hand and smartphone in the other, we would recommend that you put your mobile device away when using the toilet. As bizarre as it may sound, prolonged use of smartphones while on the toilet seat is in fact a contributor to haemorrhoids or otherwise known as piles. Before we delve into the details, let’s find out more about the condition.
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, as the name suggests, 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. However, there are several factors that can cause these cushions to become inflamed and/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.
During last week’s ‘Don’t Sit on it Lah’ Daflon Roundtable Session in Petaling Jaya, Dato’ Dr Meheshinder Singh, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon from Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, weighed in his thoughts on the condition in the company of Dato’ Dr Ho Teik Kok, Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital, Datin Mariani Ahmad Nizaruddin, Vice President of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society and Yvonne Lee Shu Yee, a former haemorrhoid patient.
He said that in addition to straining, there are several factors that can also lead to the formation of haemorrhoids. This includes ageing, pregnancy, constipation, lifting of heavy objects and of course, our next point.
Prolonged use of mobile phones on the toilet seat
This behavioural factor is widely known as the Toilet Newspaper Syndrome and can definitely put someone at risk of developing haemorrhoids. It is described as prolonged time spent on the toilet seat due to the presence of reading materials. While the newspaper may not be as popular as it was decades ago, this form of behavioural risk still persists due to a new form of technology – the smartphones.
If your news feed and video stream can’t keep you glued to your toilet seat, the myriad of entertaining apps which it contains surely would. Dr Meheshinder suggested that we should refrain from bringing in any form of gadgets, especially smartphones, into the toilet to cut our visit short.
How bad can piles get?
It can definitely get a lot worse. Dr Meheshinder added that most Malaysians are ashamed of seeking help due to the personal and private nature of the condition. This leads to delay in diagnosis and increases risk of developing unwanted complications.
These complications include blockage in the haemorrhoid vessels (thrombosis) leading to excruciating pain; chronic bleeding and chronic anal fissure. Furthermore, the 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 does one seek treatment?
“Pain and bleeding are usually the main tell-tale to eventually seeking medical help,” said Dr Meheshinder. In addition, he encouraged those aged 45 and above to undergo proctoscopy examination to rule out the possibility of more serious conditions such as cancer. A proctoscope is a short tube which is inserted into the anus and presents visualisation of rectal cavity. Prior to that, the treating doctors will take down notes on the patients’ medical history such as previous conditions and conduct physical examinations. Other tests and procedures such as colonoscopy and stool tests may also be conducted depending on the red flags.
Prevention is better than cure
During the ‘Don’t Sit on it Lah’ Daflon Roundtable Session, Datin Mariani added that low fibre or unbalanced diet also contributes to the formation of haemorrhoids. She stressed the importance of introducing more fibre and water into diet plans to avoid constipation, a known cause for haemorrhoids. She also highlighted how the habit of acquiring topical medications 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 lifestyle change, use of certain procedures and medications. Daflon 500mg sits right up there as one of the most effective pharmacological treatments used to subdue worsening haemorrhoid conditions by significantly reducing inflammation and stabilising blood circulation in the tissues. Apart from that, micronisation of particles in Daflon 500mg helps improves absorption and provides quicker relief – once again reminding us that prevention is indeed better than cure.
Hello Health Group does not provide consultation or treatment.