10 Intestinal Blockage Symptoms

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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Intestinal blockage, or intestinal obstruction, occurs when there is functional or mechanical obstruction in the intestines resulting in prevention of normal gut motility. Intestinal blockage may affect either the small or large intestines. In 5 to 15 percent of cases, mechanical obstruction is the cause of intestinal blockage necessitating hospital admission. Some examples of conditions that can cause intestinal blockage include endometriosis, hernias, adhesions, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, appendicitis, ischemic bowel, tumors, intussusception, and tuberculosis.

Small bowel obstructions are usually due to hernias and adhesions while obstructions in the large bowel are more commonly due to volvulus and tumors. The diagnosis of intestinal blockage can be achieved via plain X-rays and a computed tomography (CT) scan. In children and pregnant women, an ultrasonography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also aid diagnosis. Depending on the cause of intestinal blockage, treatment can be conservative or surgical. In most cases, intravenous fluids are administered while a tube is inserted through the nose until it reaches the stomach to help decompress the intestines. Pain medications and antibiotics may also be given. About 25 percent of small bowel obstruction cases require surgery.

Complications of intestinal blockage include bowel perforation, sepsis, and bowel ischemia. In 2015, there were around 3.2 million cases of intestinal blockage resulting in 264,000 deaths. This condition affects both genders and all ages.

Symptom #1: Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is a common symptom seen in both serious and non-serious conditions. Some common causes include gastroenteritis (infection in the gastrointestinal tract) and irritable bowel syndrome. In 10 percent of cases, there are underlying issues such as diverticulitis, appendicitis, and ectopic pregnancy.

Since the abdomen is divided into 9 regions: right hypochondriac, epigastric, left hypochondriac, left lumbar, umbilical, right lumbar, right iliac, hypogastric, and left iliac regions, the location of the pain can provide a clue regarding the possible cause. In intestinal blockage, the abdominal pain can be described as crampy.

Intestinal Blockage

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