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Intestinal Blockage – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Surgery, Prevention

Written by Dr.Mary

What exactly is an Intestinal blockage?

This is an obstruction of the colon or small intestine that stops fluid as well as food from getting thru. Intestinal obstruction may be the result of many different conditions, including tissues made up of fibrous bands in the abdominal region – referred to as adhesions – as well as tumors and hernias.


This problem results in an assortment of very uncomfortable symptoms and signs, including abdominal swelling and pain, vomiting and nausea. If this problem is left untreated, this problem may cause the parts of the intestine blocked to die. This death of this tissue also may cause the formation of a hole in the intestine, shock as well as severe infection. But, with swift medical attention, obstruction may frequently be treated successfully.

Intestinal blockage Symptoms

Symptoms as well as signs of an intestinal obstruction consist of:

  • Abdominal pain that is crampy that is intermittent
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to pass gas or to have a bowel movement
  • Swelling or distention of the abdomen

Due to the serious impediments that may develop from this obstacle, seek abrupt medical attention if you develop the symptoms or signs listed above.

Intestinal blockage Causes

Several conditions may create an intestinal obstruction. It can happen as the consequence of a “mechanical” obstruction – after something, for instance a tumor or hernia is actually obstructing the intestine. Or this can occur because of a disorder where the intestines do not function correctly. This kind of obstruction of the intestines is known as paralytic ileus or also referred to as pseudo-obstruction.

Mechanical obstruction of the small intestine

Frequent reasons of this type of obstruction of the small intestine consist of:

  • Adhesions in the intestines – bands in the cavity of the abdomen of fibrous tissue which frequently form after pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Hernias – parts of the intestine bulge into another portion of the body
  • Tumors of the small intestine
  • Inflammatory illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Twisted intestine known as volvulus
  • Telescoping of the intestine known as intussusception

Mechanical obstruction of the colon

This type of obstruction is less common in the colon than in the small intestine. Causes of mechanical colonic obstruction may include:

  • Diverticulitis – this is a condition where bulging, small sacks referred to a diverticula in the digestive systems grow to be infected or inflamed.
  • Cancer of the colon
  • Twisted colon
  • Feces Impacted
  • Colon narrowing due to scarring and inflammation

Paralytic ileus

This can cause symptoms or signs of obstruction but does not involve a real obstruction. With paralytic ileus, intestines do not work correctly due to problems with the muscle or the nerve. Action of the intestines is dramatically reduced or totally lacking, making it hard for fluid and food to flow efficiently thru the digestive tract.

Paralytic ileus may disturb any portion of the intestine. Sources may include:

  • Surgery of the pelvic
  • Surgery of at the abdomen
  • Infection
  • Some medications
  • Nerve and muscle conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease

Conditions and diseases that may increase the risk of obstruction of the intestine include:

  • Pelvic or abdominal surgery, which can cause adhesions – a frequent cause of intestinal obstruction
  • Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory problem that can cause the walls of the intestine to thicken, narrowing the passageway
  • Cancer within the abdomen, especially if you have had surgery to remove an abdominal tumor or radiation therapy

If not treated, this obstruction can cause serious, life-threatening impediments, including:

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Death of the intestine that is affected

Obstruction may cut off the supply of blood to the portion of the intestine that is affected. When left not treated, absence of blood causes the wall of the intestine to die. Death of this tissue may result in a tear or perforation in the wall of intestine, and can cause an infection.

Abdominal cavity infection

Peritonitis is the term for infection in the abdominal cavity. It is a life-threatening condition needing speedy surgical or medical attention.

Intestinal blockage Treatment

Treatment for intestinal obstruction depends on the reason for the condition.

Hospitalization to stabilize the condition

The treatment for intestinal obstruction needs hospitalization. When first getting to the hospital, the physicians will work immediately to reverse the medical condition as well as stabilize the individual so that the individual can undergo treatment. This can include:

  • Place intravenous line or IV line into a vein in the arm so that fluids may be given
  • Putting a nasogastric or NG tube thru the nose and into the stomach to suck out fluid as well as air to release swelling in the abdomen
  • Placing a flexible, thin tube or catheter into the bladder in order to drain urine as well as collect it for testing

Treatment for a partial mechanical obstruction

If there is a mechanical obstruction where some food and fluid can partially get thru, the individual can recover after they have been stabilized in the hospital. They may not ever require any further treatment. The physician may recommend a low-fiber special diet that is much easier for the partially blocked intestine to process.

Treatment for paralytic ileus

If the physician observes that your symptoms and signs are created by paralytic ileus, he/she can monitor the condition for a day or 2 in the hospital. Paralytic ileus is usually only a temporary condition that may get better on its own. If paralytic ileus does not improve within several days, the physician can prescribe drugs that cause contractions of the muscle, which is able to help move food as well as fluids thru the intestines.

Intestinal blockage Surgery

Treatment for a total mechanical obstruction. A total obstruction where nothing passes thru the intestine normally requires surgery for relief of the blockage. This process that the individual undergoes depends on what is causing the obstruction and what part of the intestine is affected. Surgery normally involves removing the obstruction, as well as any section of the intestine that is dead.

If the treatment for partial mechanical obstruction does not get better or clear on its own, the individual may need surgery to clear the obstruction.

Intestinal blockage Prevention

The prevention of intestinal blockage depends on the cause of the blockage. Treatment of conditions such as hernias as well as tumors that are related to obstruction can reduce the risk. But some cause of obstruction cannot be prevented.

An individual can be able to lessen the hazard of some types of obstruction by a modification of diet as well as lifestyle. For instance:

  • To help in the prevention of colorectal cancer, have a healthy diet that is low in fat with lots of vegetables as well as fruits, stop smoking and see a physician for colorectal cancer screening at least yearly after the age of 50.
  • To help with the prevention of hernias, evade heavy lifting, which can increase pressure in the abdomen and can push a portion of intestine to obtrude thru an area that is vulnerable of the abdomen wall. If an individual develops an atypical lump under the skin of the abdomen, particularly near the groin or near a surgical scar, see your physician.
  • There is really no way proven to prevent obstacle cause by diverticular illness, but many physicians believe that individuals with diverticular disease need to have a high-fiber diet as well as evade foods that can become wedged in the diverticula, such as popcorn as well as seeds.

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