TEEN HEALTH Published July10, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Toilet Phobia Kills Teen

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(Photo : Christof Koensel | Getty Images News)

Here's a lesson for everyone: don't take phobia for granted.

A phobia of the toilet is believed to be the root cause of the death of a teen from Cornwall, her inquest recently revealed.

Emily Titterington, 16, was found by the paramedics unconscious in her the family home after she collapsed. She was immediately brought to the hospital while the paramedics tried to revive her. However, she later died on Feb 8, 2013.

Her cause of death was then ruled as heart attack. But she was actually also practicing stool withholding, which is actually not as uncommon as you might think. However, it normally occurs among children.

Emily, who also had mild autism, had developed an intense fear of the bathroom that she avoided relieving herself for the last 2 months before her death. Her mother, Geraldine, and the family doctor, Dr. Alistair James, had tried to convince her to undergo medical examination and be treated, but all their efforts were in vain. The doctor was able to provide laxatives, but he didn't have the chance to examine her properly.

Based on the inquest, it's believed that the teen could have survived if proper and immediate medical intervention was performed.

According to the paramedics who were the first to treat her, the signs of stool withholding were already clearly evident. Her abdomen had already become swollen that it already extended significantly. This also meant that her chest cavity had shrunk, which then forced her other organs to be displaced. Her condition was so serious many doctors including Amanda Jeffery, the pathologist, called it "dramatic" and nothing she had seen before.

According to Anxiety UK, the fear of toilet may involve social phobia, agoraphobia, or the high anxiety of relieving oneself in public. Some also have very specific phobias involving the bathroom. The organization, through its toilet anxiety project, believes one of the effective treatments is cognitive behavior therapy.  

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