Even before studies emerged that using public restrooms during the COVID-19 outbreak was risky, people have been already averting them due to the pandemic. But experts now warn that this aversion can be a health problem itself.
Indoor public spaces have always been a cause of concern as they can be fertile ground for infections and public restrooms are particularly risky with germs and bodily fluids everywhere, said Dr. Emir Akıncıoğlu, a urologist at the Tepecik Training and Research Hospital in western Turkey's Izmir.
"However, we never recommend people delay urinating. It causes health problems. For instance, urine accumulated over time in the body affects the bladder and in the long run, may lead to kidney failure," Akıncıoğlu said.
He does not recommend using public restrooms either but advises several measures. "Except water, people may minimize consumption of drinks like tea or coffee. You should continue consuming at least 1.5 liters of water every day," he said.
If you have to go, you have to go, but Akıncıoğlu warns of the dangers lurking in public restrooms. "Studies show coronavirus can spread through excrement. Flushing the toilet increases infection risk as it can cause the virus to be circulated in the air. And you should absolutely have a sanitizer with you when going into a stall and should clean the seat. If you need to flush, you should do it with the lid down. After you are done, you should use sanitizer again," he said.
Being too cautious means it is an extra burden for restroom attendants. One attendant, Emel Yavaş, said people’s restroom habits changed since the pandemic broke out. "Now, everyone thinks about themselves. They don’t flush, they dump paper towels on the floor instead of tossing them into the bin. They are afraid of touching anywhere. Some people even leave the taps running. Restrooms used to be cleaner before the coronavirus," she complained.