A blockage that prevents food and liquids from passing through the small or large intestine is known as intestinal obstruction. This can be caused by a various of factor such as: adhesions (fibrous band of tissue) that develop after surgery, hernias, colon cancer, certain drugs, or strictures from an inflamed intestine brought on by illnesses like Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.
Without treatment, the intestine’s obstructed sections may be destroyed and cause problems. However, with early medical intervention, intestinal obstruction can often be managed effectively.
Intestinal blockage symptoms and signs include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- On and off stomach cramps
- Swollen abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in feces
- Lethargy in infants and children
- Lack of urination or expelling gas (bloating)
If you experience significant abdominal pain or other intestinal obstruction symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Adult intestinal blockage is most frequently caused by:
- Cancer of the colon or malignant tumors
- Intestinal adhesions: rings of fibrous tissue that may develop in the abdominal cavity following pelvic or abdominal surgery
- Hernias: sections of your intestine that stick out of the abdominal cavity.
The most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children is intussusception, which occurs when one part of the intestine slides into the next intestinal section, causing the intestine to overlap the next intestinal part.
Intestinal blockage may also result from the following factors:
- The colon is twisted (volvulus)
- Impacted stool
- Diverticulitis, a disorder when the digestive tract’s tiny, protruding pouches (diverticula) swell up or get infected
- Bowel conditions that cause inflammation (e.g., Crohn’s disease)
Although it does not entail a physical obstruction, intestinal pseudo-obstruction (paralytic ileus) can cause the signs and symptoms of intestinal obstruction. The typical coordinated muscle contractions of the intestines are disrupted in paralytic ileus by muscle or nerve disorders, which slows or prevents the passage of food and liquid through the digestive system.
Any area of the gut might be impacted by paralytic ileus. Some causes include:
- Surgery of the pelvis or abdomen
- Disorders of the muscles and nervous system, like Parkinson’s disease
- Several drugs, including opioids and antidepressants, can have an impact on the muscles and nerves
The following illnesses and diseases can make you more susceptible to intestinal obstruction:
- Abdominal cancer
- Surgery on the abdomen or pelvis, which frequently results in adhesions, a usual intestinal obstruction
- Crohn’s disease, which can thicken the intestine’s walls and make the passageway smaller