Scrolling Through Your Phone While On The Toilet Is Riskier Than You'd Expect

We all know the feeling — your stomach starts gurgling and you quickly realize you're about to be held up in the bathroom for the foreseeable future. If you know you're going to be preoccupied for a while, it makes sense that you'd be tempted to bring your phone with you in order to help pass the time. However, losing track of time on the toilet as you scroll through the socials can have an impact on your health. 

As it turns out, you may be increasing your risk for hemorrhoids if a portion of your daily screen time is spent on the toilet, reports The Washington Post. Hemorrhoids are bulging veins that can be found internally or externally around the anus and rectum, according to experts at the Cleveland Clinic. While every one of us technically has hemorrhoids, many of us go through life unaware that they're even there. However, it's thought that approximately 1 in every 20 people in the U.S. experience uncomfortable symptoms associated with hemorrhoids. This may include itching, pain, rectal bleeding, or the presence of solid, tender lumps around the anus.

How your positioning on the toilet can increase your risk for hemorrhoids

So what's the connection between hemorrhoids and time spent with our smartphone in the bathroom? Well, the toilet itself, for starters. Gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Dr. Roshini Raj told The Washington Post that because a toilet seat is shaped like a ring, sitting over the opening means that the rectum and anus are naturally dipping slightly below the thighs, thereby causing stress on the veins. Sitting on the toilet for an extended length of time while scrolling through Instagram keeps this pressure on the area even longer, which can increase your risk for hemorrhoids.

Also cautioning against longer-than-necessary restroom visits, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn outlines in a TikTok video how spending extended time on the toilet can prompt blood to accumulate around the anus and rectum, also potentially leading to the development of hemorrhoids. So just how much time is too much time spent on the toilet? Better set a timer on that smartphone!

How long should we spend on the toilet?

As per Dr. Youn's video recommendation, it's best to limit toilet time to 15 minutes or less. However, Dr. Raj alternatively suggests a maximum of 10 minutes. If hemorrhoids weren't reason enough to leave your phone outside the bathroom, hygiene is another reason. With just one flush of the toilet, germs are spread through the air and can contaminate sinks, countertops, and yes — your phone. Even more, if you're not engaging in proper hand-washing, your phone can become even more of a hotspot for bacteria.

To help keep our phones sanitary and prevent the development of hemorrhoids, it's best to keep toilet time short and phone activity paused until after you've used the bathroom. However, if you suspect that you may already be experiencing the discomfort of hemorrhoids, the Cleveland Clinic suggests upping your water intake, taking a warm bath daily for up to 20 minutes, eating more fiber, and utilizing laxatives to help make bowel movements easier. You may also apply lidocaine or hydrocortisone to the affected area or take over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help ease discomfort and swelling. Most of the time, hemorrhoids will take care of themselves. However, reach out to your doctor if symptoms don't subside within a week.