Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Intestinal obstruction is a condition that occurs when something blocks the intestines, both large and small. When your digestive system stops working, you can’t have a bowel movement or pass gas. The abdomen may also be swollen or painful.

A common type of blockage is called fecal impaction, which is when large, hard stools get stuck in the digestive tract and cannot be expelled normally. However, when the intestine is blocked by something other than hard stool, doctors refer to it as a bowel obstruction.

In general, intestinal obstruction is divided into partial obstruction or complete obstruction. A person may also experience pseudo-obstruction, in which the individual has symptoms of an intestinal obstruction but nothing is physically blocking it. This can occur due to problems with the gastrointestinal muscles or the nerves that control them.

We will discuss various facts about intestinal obstruction that have been summarized from the page Healthline and WebMD.

1. Symptoms

Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatmentstomach ache illustration (freepik.com/diana.grytsku)

Symptoms caused by intestinal obstruction are of various kinds, which include:

  • Bloated.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nauseous.
  • Gag.
  • Unable to pass gas or defecate.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Swollen belly.

Symptoms may vary, depending on the location and duration of the obstruction. For example, vomiting is an early sign of small bowel obstruction. Partial obstruction causes diarrhea, while complete obstruction causes inability to defecate.

2. Causes and risk factors

Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatmentintestinal obstruction illustration (healthlibrary.askapollo.com)

The intestines can become blocked in a number of ways, such as:

  • Part of the intestine is twisted so that it closes and prevents anything from passing through.
  • Experiencing inflammation and swelling.
  • Scar tissue or a hernia that makes the intestines too narrow for anything to pass through.
  • The presence of a tumor or other growth blocking the intestine.
  • Damage to blood vessels leading to the intestines, causing some intestinal tissue to die.

In many cases, inflammation, surgery, or cancer can cause bowel obstruction. However, it is more likely to be experienced by elderly individuals.

Bowel obstruction can occur in the small or large intestine, but is most likely to occur in the small intestine. A person is more likely to have a bowel obstruction if they have:

  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Diverticulitis.
  • hernia.
  • Colon cancer.
  • Stomach cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • Scar tissue from surgery.
  • Radiation to the stomach.
  • Other cancers that have spread to the intestines.

Also Read: Duodenal Ulcer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

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3. Diagnosis

Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatmentcolonoscopy illustration (levelandclinic.org)

Diagnosis of intestinal obstruction begins with pushing the stomach to examine it. The doctor will then use a stethoscope to listen for any sounds in the intestines. The presence of a hard lump or certain types of noise can help the doctor know if there is an obstruction.

Other tests include:

  • Blood test.
  • X-ray.
  • CT scans.
  • Colonoscopy.

4. Treatment

Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatmentsurgery illustration (freepik.com/wavebreakmedia)

Treatment of bowel obstruction may have to be done in a hospital. Later, the doctor will give medicine and fluids through an IV. The doctor may also pass a thin tube through the nose into the stomach, which allows fluid and gas to escape to relieve symptoms. Other treatments may include:

  • The doctor may provide special dietary guidelines that are easier for the intestines.
  • Air or liquid enema to clear blockages in the intestines.
  • Tube mesh be a safe option for individuals who cannot afford surgery.
  • Surgery is usually the best treatment for a completely blocked bowel when the bowel is damaged.

5. Complications that can occur

Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatmentillustration of kidney failure, a complication of intestinal obstruction (freepik.com/racool-studio)

Untreated intestinal obstruction can lead to several complications, such as:

  • Dehydration.
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • The formation of a hole in the intestine, which causes infection.
  • Kidney failure.

If the obstruction blocks blood from entering a segment of the intestine, it can cause:

  • Infection.
  • Network death.
  • Intestinal perforation.
  • Sepsis.
  • Organ failure.
  • Dead.

Overall, the outlook for the condition depends on the cause of the bowel construction. Most cases of intestinal obstruction can be managed well. However, severe underlying causes require long-term treatment and monitoring.

Also read: 8 Symptoms of Colon Cancer That Are Starting to Attack Millennials