symptoms vary depending on what causes the obstruction, where the obstruction is located and how long has the obstruction been there. Bowel obstruction is a condition where the stool is prevented from passing due to a partial or full blockage in the bowel (either in the small or large intestine). This condition is usually a complication of Crohn's disease but it can affect anyone.
Bowel obstruction can be due to the following:
Hernia Adhesions Scar tissue Impacted stool Tumor Gallstones Abnormal growth of tissue Intussusception or the sliding of the bowel to itself which can be compared to a telescope when it is closed. Volvulus – kink or twist in the intestine. Ingestion of non-food material or foreign object
If left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems such as a hole or perforation in the intestine which is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. It can also cause gangrene or infection due to the death of some parts of the bowel.
If you experience some or all of these bowel obstruction symptoms, you need to consult your doctor right away.
Abdomen feels heavy or full Feeling of bloating or distention Constipation Diarrhea Bad Breath Abdominal cramps and pain Vomiting
Due to blockage of the bowel, obstruction causes the absence of gas or stool known as obstipation because no stool can pass through the blockage in the intestine. On the other hand, the obstruction can also cause diarrhea because only liquid stool can pass through the blockage.
How is Abdominal Obstruction Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of this condition is done through both physical and diagnostic exams.
Abdominal Radiograph (X-Ray) – This is a non-invasive test that gives results quickly. This is normally the initial test done to determine if there is any obstruction in the bowel. The Radiologist will use the X-ray film to look for signs of obstruction.
Bowel Sounds – In a normal condition, the bowel makes a gurgling or clicking sound. Your doctor will listen to your bowel sounds using a stethoscope placed on your abdomen. High pitch sounds may indicate a blockage, however, there can be an absence of bowel sounds if the obstruction has been there for a long time.
Abdominal CT Scan – This is much like an X-Ray but is administered through mouth, IV or enema. CT Scan can pinpoint the location of the blockage as well as what is causing the obstruction.
Conservative treatment is usually done for small bowel obstruction. It involves correction of dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities and nasogastric tube insertion. Opioid pain reliever may be administered to relieve severe pain. For vomiting patients, antiemetics are given.
It takes about 2 to 5 days to recover from conservative treatment (non-surgical) of bowel obstruction. If there is full obstruction or of the blockage is due to cancer, surgery may be done to remove the blockage.
This condition should not be treated lightly. If bowel obstruction symptoms are experienced, see a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.