Bowel obstruction

Do you know how long your intestine is? After you eat all the digested food stuff goes and travels through a 25 feet intestines. These are considered as wastes and must be in motion always to the next consecutive part for defecation. But if you have a bowel obstruction, the movement of the wastage is stopped. Simply saying, it is the blockage of small and large intestines.

If there is a bowel obstruction, all the foods, fluids, gastric acids and gas piles up behind the blocked site, this ruptures and leads to the leakage of toxic contents of the stomach into the abdominal cavity.


Intestinal obstruction manifests clinically through the following signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Severe bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps

Some symptoms depend on the location of the obstruction. Small bowel obstruction symptoms would include vomiting. If there is any rupture in the intestinal wall, you may experience high-grade fever. Large bowel obstruction is a medical emergency that require early medical interventions.

Tips that help reduce bowel obstruction

  • Drinking more water
  • Increasing fiber in the diet
  • Drinking fresh orange juice every day
  • Consuming fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Drinking water and honey early morning on empty stomach

When to call a doctor?

Bowel obstruction is considered as a medical emergency. You must for sure call your doctor if you have abdominal bloating, severe constipation, loss of appetite, or if you have recently undergone any abdominal surgery.


There may be numerous reasons for blockage in your intestines, some of which are;

  • Herniation (caused by weakness) of small intestine
  • Adhesions caused due to surgery
  • Inflammatory disease of the intestines such as Crohn’s disease
  • Severe constipation that causes impacted bowel
  • Colon cancer, the tumor blocks the intestine
  • Gall stones, volvulus, intussusception, or paralytic ileus may cause blockage in your intestines


If bowel obstruction is left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications such as:

Tissue death: Intestinal obstruction can stop the blood supply, this causes intestinal wall death and infections.

Infection: Peritonitis is an infection of the abdominal cavity. It is a life-threatening condition that requires medical attention or surgical intervention

Physical examination: Your doctor would take a medical history and understand your symptoms and also performs a physical exam to assess the situation. Your abdomen would be swollen or tender if there is any obstruction. Your doctor would listen for the bowel movements using a stethoscope.

X-ray: only small intestinal obstructions can be seen using X-rays, but this helps in confirming the diagnosis

Ultrasound: This is the most preferred type of imaging for children. It helps show the coils in the intestine in young patients.

Computer tomography (CT) scan: it gives a series of x-rays in the cross-sectional fashion. This shows intestinal obstruction in a perfect view.

Barium enema: it is an enhanced type of imaging for any suspected causes of obstruction.

The commonly used strategies for intestinal obstruction treatment or Bowel obstruction treatment are: Medications do not reduce the bowel obstruction; it just gives symptomatic relief, by reducing nausea, vomiting, until other medical interventions are performed.

The drugs include;

  • Pain relievers to alleviate the pain
  • Antibiotics for treating the infection
  • Anti-emetics to reduce the vomiting

Surgery: Intestinal obstruction surgery relieves a bowel obstruction. At first, you will be given fluids intravenously for at least six to eight hours. This helps in reducing the dehydration and prevents shock during the surgical procedures.

In the case of death in the intestinal tissue, your surgeon will remove the dead tissue and join the two healthy intestinal ends.