Although it may be funny to some people, toilet phobia is real and it affects over four million Britons.

Some cases are so severe that they even refuse to leave their homes or risk their health by unhealthy behaviors such as refusing to take fluids, or taking drugs before leaving their homes in order to avoid having to go to the toilet elsewhere.

Such behaviors could harm the kidneys as well as gastrointestinal tract.

Toilet phobia is an anxiety disorder and the National Phobics Society is trying to raise awareness about it. They are about to launch a self help book and a DVD.

The phobia intensity could range from a mild distaste for public loos to an intense obsession in which people refuse to leave their homes or undergo medical examinations.

There have been cases in which the sufferers refused jobs if the toilets were located off a communal area.

Health experts say that the problem is that many of these people refuse to admit and deal with their problem. One of the reasons is the embarrassment of being laughed at or not being taken seriously.
It has been determined that there could be several conditions behind the toilet phobia. They are obsessive compulsive disorder related to fear of contamination, agoraphobia-fear of open spaces, paruresis and parcopresis-fear of urinating and defecating in public toilets.

Many health professionals also need to become aware of the severity of the problem, so that they could encourage patients to step forward and seek for professional help. Treatments could include cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnosis.