You sit too long…
Ever spent so long on the toilet that your housemates ask if you’ve fallen in? We get it. It’s quiet in the bathroom. You can actually lock the door and sit uninterrupted with a magazine, book or, more likely, a smartphone. But you really need to find another spot for a little “me time.” Sitting perched in that position too long puts extra stress on the veins in the lowest part of your rectum; if those veins swell or bulge, it’s “hello, haemorrhoids.” In many cases haemorrhoids usually clear up within a week, but in the meantime, can be itchy, uncomfortable, and are the most common cause of rectal bleeding.
If you see any bright red spots on your stool or toilet paper after you wipe, talk to your doctor to make sure the bleeding isn’t a symptom of colon cancer or another serious condition. He or she may also suggest over-the-counter creams or ointments to treat persistent and painful haemorrhoids.
Here’s another reason to keep your smartphone on the other side of the toilet door… check out this feature on just how dirty your phone screen really is.
…and push too hard
Straining and holding your breath to get stubborn stool out not only ups the pressure on the veins down there, boosting your risk of haemorrhoids, but may also lead to anal fissures. These tiny tears in the tissue that lines your butt hole can occur when you force out large and hard, constipated poo. To help keep stool soft for an easier exit, up your fibre intake, drink plenty of fluids, and stay active (regular physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines). And to perhaps ease the need to strain, try squatting for a few seconds: that position naturally aligns the intestinal tract in a way that may help move things along with less effort.
Head here to find out more about controlling constipation.
You don’t peek at your poo
Well of course it’s gross, but seeing what comes out can hint at what’s happening on your insides. Soft, smooth, and sausage-shaped stool is a sign of good gastrointestinal health; soft blobs with clear-cut edges are fine too. But if your deposits are hard and lumpy, you may need to up your fibre and fluid intake. Poo that exits like pee, on the other hand, could be caused by a mild case of food poisoning or food intolerance, an infection or signal more serious conditions, such as Crohn’s or coeliac disease. Floaters are most often due to poor absorption of nutrients or too much gas in your digestive tract; pencil-thin bowel movements could indicate colon cancer. Keep an eye on the contents of your bowl, and talk to your doctor if you notice bright red or jet-black stool (a sign of bleeding), as well as any big and persistent changes to your bowel movements.