Ileus Symptoms, Causes & More

By leslie
Reviewed: dr. stavarache
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. ’Intestinal obstruction.’ Mayo Clinic.
  • 2. ’Intestinal obstruction and ileus.’ Medline Plus. www.
  • 3. Vilz T; Stoffels B; Strassburg C’Schild H; Kalff J. ‘Ileus in Adults.’ National Institutes of Health.
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Ileus is an umbrella term that refers to a blockage in the intestine, and it may occur in either the small intestine or the colon. There are two types of ileus, functional and mechanical.

A functional ileus obstruction is caused by the slowing down of the bowel's smooth muscle, causing food to back up. It may be caused by nerve damage induced by diabetes or muscle and nerve disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. Opioid usage may be a culprit as well. Mechanical ileus may develop due to scarring after abdominal surgery or narrowing of the bowel due to inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn's disease.1’Intestinal obstruction.’ Mayo Clinic.

Ileus Symptoms

Symptoms in ileus may vary depending on the location of the blockage. A distended abdomen and a feeling of fullness are common first signs. Pain and cramping may follow, along with constipation or diarrhea. As the obstruction progresses, the person may not be able to pass gas.

Foul breath odor may be noticeable with ileus, while nausea and vomiting may occur as the obstruction keeps food from progressing through the digestive system. The stomach may become very quiet and signs of movement in the bowel may cease. As the condition worsens, pain may become unbearable.2’Intestinal obstruction and ileus.’ Medline Plus. www.


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