Bowel obstruction is a medical emergency where the small or large intestine has become blocked and does not allow food to pass. A blockage in the bowel can cause the individual's intestine to split or rupture. When a bowel obstruction tears or ruptures the intestine, the contents before the blockage can spill into the abdominal cavity and cause a life-threatening infection. Symptoms of a bowel obstruction include constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, bloating, nausea, severe pain, inability to pass gas, and a swollen belly. A physician can use a physical examination, blood tests, endoscopy, computerized tomography scans, and contrast x-rays to pinpoint and diagnose an obstruction. Bowel obstruction treatment depends on its severity and its underlying cause, though common treatments include stool softening medication, intravenous fluids, nausea medication, pain relievers, antibiotics, use of a nasogastric tube, surgical procedures, and therapeutic enema.
Numerous mechanisms can cause an individual to develop a bowel obstruction. Learn about them now.
Bands of fibrous scar tissue that develop in an individual's abdominal organs are referred to as intestinal adhesions, which can cause an individual's intestine to bind to parts of itself or the individual's abdominal wall. Intestinal adhesions develop as a complication of abdominal surgery, certain types of infections, or a condition called endometriosis. Intestinal adhesions are a permanent deformity unless medical intervention is used to cut them. The bands of fibrous tissues around the intestines of an affected individual can partially or fully obstruct the movement of food through the intestine. Part of an individual's intestine that has been obstructed by intestinal adhesions can frequently become blocked and unblocked. Intermittent bouts of symptoms indicate a partial obstruction in someone with intestinal adhesions. Abdominal pain, vomiting, an inability to pass gas, dehydration, and abdominal swelling can occur in a bowel obstruction due to intestinal adhesions.
Keep reading to learn more about what can cause a bowel obstruction now.