The growing use of computers and tablet devices is allowing young people to have a more sedentary lifestyle, which doctors say makes them more susceptible to hemorrhoids.
Hsu Ta-wen (徐大聞), head of the department of colorectal surgery at the Buddhist Dalin Tzu Chi General Hospital in Chiayi County, said a 17-year-old vocational high school student recently sought treatment after experiencing severe anal swelling.
The teen had become so obsessed with online games that he could sit in front of a computer for more than 10 hours at a time, while on weekends he might play for almost 20 hours non-stop, Hsu said.
“The student had developed acute mesenteric venous thrombosis and hemorrhoids, which had swollen so badly that they extended outside his anus,” Hsu said, adding that the teen’s condition made it extremely painful for him to sit down.
The teen had to undergo surgery to relieve his condition.
While most sufferers of serious hemorrhoids are middle-aged or elderly people, the number of young adults aged 25 years old or under developing hemorrhoids has been increasing in recent years and now accounts for about 10 percent of hemorrhoid patients, Hsu said.
“The increase can be attributed to young people’s overuse of 3G devices. Compared with adolescents in the past who only sat for long periods of time when studying or riding buses, young students now are glued to their chairs once they sit down to play games or surf the Internet using their PCs or smartphones,” Hsu said.
“Some forget to stand up while others forget to eat or go to sleep, a lifestyle that makes them more prone to acute attacks of piles,” Hsu added.
Hemorrhoids are generally caused by long-term constipation and poor blood circulation in the anal area, the doctor said.
Young people already have a greater chance of becoming constipated because of their high consumption of meat and low intake of water, vegetables and fruits, Hsu said, and their sedentary lifestyle only increases their likelihood of developing acute hemorrhoids.
“Heavy computer and smartphone users are advised to drink more water, eat more vegetables and get up to stretch and move every one to two hours. They should also avoid chairs with a soft cushion because the cushion could hinder the blood flow around the anus,” Hsu said.
Hsu said people with hemorrhoids would normally notice bright red blood in their feces, and they should treat the condition by applying hemorrhoid cream or sitting in lukewarm water.
“However, patients with severe hemorrhoids require surgery for a permanent cure,” he said.