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Can Holding Your Poop Kill You? Medical Professionals Weigh In.

July 08, 2015 2 min read

We may not talk about it much but we all do it. Now, think about what might happen if you didn't do it. 16 year old Emily Titterington died a few years ago after not pooping for 8 weeks. Emily had autism and experienced bowel troubles all her life. It has been reported that she had a fear of toilets so severe that she held her bowel movements long enough to become deadly. Her cause of death was a heart attack. It was caused by an enlarged bowel which had shifted and compressed some of her other organs. Paramedic Lee Taylor, who saw Emily the night she died, noted that "her abdomen was grossly extended. Her lower ribs had been pushed out further than her pubic bone." Emily's GP had prescribed laxatives but beyond that, she had refused medical care. This is clearly an extreme case but should you be worried? "I've never heard of this happening before," says Frank R. Malkin, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Charles River Medical Associates in Natick, Massachusetts. "It's not uncommon to see young people in their teens or twenties come in and say they haven't gone to the bathroom in two weeks, but they can take stool softeners or fiber pills, or we find some other form of treatment if necessary. Eight weeks without going to the bathroom, then dying from that, is very unusual." Holding poop for longs periods of time doesn't often happen in adults. "This is absolutely more common in children," says Carin Cunningham, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at Seattle Children's Hospital who has not seen a death due to constipation but understands the mechanics that could lead to it. "It's typically a pain response to severe constipation. A child will be afraid to stool, and instead of opening the external anal sphincter muscles, they'll contract them. It becomes habitual. Sometimes, the toilet becomes associated with stooling, so there's a toilet phobia. Many kids who have a fear of the toilet will still soil themselves, but in some cases, the colon becomes distended and the body just accommodates all that stool retention." Well, it appears holding your stool isn't immediately life threatening but in the right circumstances, it could be. Perhaps it is time for some extra fiber, just in case... h/t: Women's Health Do you follow BodyRock on Snapchat and Instagram? [caption id="attachment_97794" align="alignnone" width="100"]snapcode @BodyRockTV[/caption]

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