Doctor’s warning: The common mistake when having a poo that can ‘cause haemorrhoids’

Dr Zoe Williams advises getting a 'squatty potty' for constipation

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info spoke to Dr Suba M, Director of Science, Health and Wellness at Holland & Barrett, about different aspects of gut health, including having a poo. The doctor explained that the “taboo subject for many” deserves attention as it can help identify issues and manage them. She named one thing people should avoid when doing number two.

Many people don’t think twice about their toilet habits. In fact, research from Holland & Barrett has revealed that 72 percent of the population struggle with gut health issues but almost half do nothing about it.

You might even think that you’ve managed to perfect the practice of having a poo over the years.

But some toilet habits might need to be re-evaluated in order to avoid problems, according to Dr Suba M.

The expert shared that many people spend too much time on the loo when emptying their bowels.

From scrolling through social media to reading a paper, many people tend to sit on the toilet for longer than necessary.

However, this could potentially be harmful.

Dr Suba explained: “I know a lot of people that tend to kind of read on the loo but try to go when you need to, empty your bowels and then leave.

“Don’t sit there for too long because, actually, that can cause haemorrhoids.”

If you’re not aware, haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are lumps located inside and around your bottom.

The good news is these lumps tend to get better on their own after a few days.

What’s more, there’s loads you can do to prevent haemorrhoids, including cutting back on toilet time.

The staple of a healthy gut and bowel movement – fibre – is one of the things recommended by the NHS for cutting your risk of developing piles.

When it comes to diet, another thing to remember is lowering your intake of alcohol and caffeine “to avoid constipation”, the health service states.

What are the symptoms of haemorrhoids?

The warning signs of the lumps include:

  • Bright red blood after having a poo
  • Itchy bottom
  • Feeling like you need to poo even after you just went
  • Slimy mucus in your underwear or on loo roll after wiping your bottom
  • Lumps around your bottom
  • Pain around your bottom.

The NHS advises seeing a GP if you don’t see improvement after seven days of home treatment or if you keep getting haemorrhoids.

How to improve your gut health?

Things like positioning and not spending too long on the loo can make a difference but what you actually put in your gut also matters.

Dr Suba said: “The first thing is, really, you are what you eat. As long as you pick a diverse range of food, whole foods and try to minimise ultra-processed food, all of that is really good for you.

“The second thing is fibre, but a lot of people tend not to pay attention to it. The thing about fibre is it’s good and bad because if you take too much in, then it can leave you bloated as well.

“Then I would say try some biotics so pre, pro and post biotics; they’re three ranges.”

To further understand your stool and what it might be signalling, Dr Suba has helped to give the Bristol Stool Chart a makeover 25 years after its creation.

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