Intestinal (Bowel) Obstruction

What Is Intestinal Obstruction?

Digested food particles must travel through 25 feet of intestines or more before new wastes enter your body. These wastes are constantly in movement. However intestinal obstruction can stop this. An intestinal obstruction happens when your little or large intestine is blocked. The obstruction, partial or total, prevents the passage of fluid or digested food.

If intestinal obstruction happens, food, fluids, stomach acids, and gas develop behind the site of the obstruction. If enough pressure builds up, the intestinal tract can burst. This causes a leak of hazardous stomach contents into your abdominal cavity.

There are lots of possible causes of intestinal obstruction In most cases, this condition can’t be avoided. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. A neglected intestinal obstruction can be fatal.

Symptoms of Intestinal (Bowel) Obstruction

Intestinal obstruction causes a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms, consisting of:

Some of the symptoms might depend on the area of the obstruction For example, vomiting is an early sign of small intestine obstruction. This has the tendency to happen after a longer amount of time if you have an obstruction in the large intestine. A partial obstruction can result in diarrhea, while a complete obstruction results in constipation.

Intestinal obstruction may also cause a high fever if a portion of the intestinal wall has burst.

Causes of Intestinal Obstruction

Intestinal blockages are either the result of something blocking part of the intestinal tract (mechanical obstruction) or a failure of the intestine to work appropriately (paralytic ileus). There’s a variety of causes of intestinal obstruction:

  • intussusception, which occurs when one section of your intestine collapses into another
  • colon cancer in which the growth obstructs the intestine
  • paralytic ileus, which is a condition that typically occurs after abdominal surgery in which your intestinal tract temporarily stops contracting and moving its contents along
  • an inflammatory disease, like Crohn’s disease, where swelling and scar tissue causes a constricting of your intestine
    volvulus, which is a twist or knot in your intestinal tract
  • severe constipation from Parkinson’s disease, which leads to affected bowel
  • consuming foreign things, which is rare
  • gallstones, which can press against your intestinal tract and obstruct the flow of its contents
  • a strangulated hernia, which occurs when part of your small intestine protrudes through your abdominal wall
    adhesions, or scar tissue, from a previous abdominal surgery

Inning accordance with the Merck Manual, 10 to 20 percent of little bowel obstructions are due to intestinal strangulation. This can cause gangrene to rapidly establish in the colon.

Intestinal Obstruction in Infants

Intestinal obstruction in babies generally develops from infections, organ diseases, and reduced blood flow to the intestinal tracts (strangulation). Some children experience the condition after having a the stomach influenza. This can cause inflammation in the intestinal tracts.

Intussusception is the most common abdominal emergency in children 2 years old and more youthful. This happens when one part of the bowel collapses or moves into another part. As a result, the intestinal tract is obstructed.

Any type of intestinal obstruction is hard to identify in infants due to the fact that they can not describe their symptoms, according to Rather, parents need to observe their children for modifications and symptoms that could suggest an obstruction. Examples include:

  • fever
  • drowsy
  • vomiting, especially bile-like vomiting that is yellow-green
  • very loud cry
  • weak point
  • grunting in pain
  • abdominal swelling
  • passing stools that appear to have blood in them, called a currant jelly stool
  • child draws knees up to his or her chest

If you notice these symptoms or other changes in your child, seek medical attention. An intestinal obstruction (intestinal blockage) is a medical emergency. When a child gets treatment within 24 hours of when their symptoms began, they normally make a full recovery.

When to See a Doctor

An intestinal obstruction is always thought about a medical emergency situation even if isn’t hasn’t emerged.

Seek emergency medical care if you have symptoms of an intestinal obstruction, specifically if you have actually recently undergone abdominal surgery. If you experience abdominal bloating, severe constipation, and a loss of appetite, look for immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis of Intestinal Obstruction

First, your doctor will ask you your medical history and carry out a physical exam. They may be able to identify the obstruction by paying attention to your abdominal area with a stethoscope. Your doctor may likewise observe that your abdominal area is very swollen or that there’s a lump in the area.

Your doctor will use CT scans and X-rays of your abdominal area to locate the site of your obstruction and to determine its cause. If the obstruction remains in your large intestine, your doctor may perform a colonoscopy (a flexible, lighted seeing tube) to take a look at your intestine. X-rays might be taken after you’ve been given an enema that uses barium or a dye called Hypaque to supply contrast. This assists to provide a clear picture of your colon.

Treatment for Intestinal Obstruction

An intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency situation that needs prompt medical treatment. Don’t attempt to treat the issue at home. The suitable treatment depends on the type of intestinal obstruction.

Initially, a versatile tube may be passed through your nose or mouth to remove fluid and gas. This will eliminate your abdominal swelling.

A lot of intestinal obstructions require surgery. You will be offered fluids intravenously for as numerous as 6 to eight hours. Intravenous (IV) fluids eliminate dehydration by restoring your electrolyte levels and help avoid shock during surgery. This therapy is typically given in a medical facility or other licensed healthcare facility.

If the tissue in the affected part of your intestinal tract has died, your surgeon will carry out a resection to get rid of the dead tissue and join the two healthy ends of the intestinal tract.


While prescription medications can not treat the obstruction itself, they can help reduce your nausea till further interventions are performed. Examples of medications your doctor might recommend include:

  • antibiotics to minimize infection
  • anti-emetics to keep you from vomiting
  • painkiller

You should not ignore the symptoms of an intestinal obstruction or attempt to treat an intestinal obstruction at home.

Outlook for Intestinal Obstruction

When left untreated, intestinal obstruction can cause the tissue in the afflicted part of your intestinal tract to die. This can cause a hole, or perforation, in the wall of the intestine, severe infection, and shock.

In general, the outlook of your condition depends upon its cause. While many cases of intestinal obstruction are treatable, other causes, such as cancer, need long-lasting treatment and monitoring.

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