Intestinal Obstruction: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatments

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The intestine which is responsible for digestion of food can sometimes get blocked due to various reasons and cause severe health complications. The blockage can be complete or partial depending on different conditions that are causing intestinal obstruction. Some of the common symptoms of this problem include pain in the abdomen region along with bloating. This also leads to loss of appetite and constipation in most cases. This can lead to several complications when timely treatment is not given and in extreme cases, it can even lead to fatal consequences. The intestine can get ruptured due to pressure and this will release waste materials into the body and cause other health complications. It can, however, be treated with surgery in most cases and this can give long-term relief from the problem.

Symptoms of Intestinal Obstruction:

– It is very easy to notice the symptoms of intestinal obstruction and you will often feel severe pain in the abdominal region. This can last for many days when you are suffering from this condition.

– It will also be accompanied by bloating that will last for a long duration and you will feel fuller even after eating a small quantity of food.

– The overall appetite will also decrease due to intestinal obstruction and you will have difficulty in passing gas or stool due to the blockage in the intestine.

– This can also lead to severe cramps in the abdominal region and even cause swelling in many cases. It will usually be very painful to handle this situation and most people mistake it for regular indigestion.

– When you are having this condition for more than few days, it often leads to constipation or diarrhoea and this will lead to further complications.

– Some patients also complain about symptoms of vomiting and nausea due to this condition.

– You need to be very careful about such symptoms in children as they may not be able to explain everything in a detailed manner. In this situation, you have to watch out for some symptoms like swelling in the abdominal region or constant crying. They may also feel very tired or develop fever due to the pain. In such a situation, they will also feel drowsy and stay inactive due to the condition.

Causes of Intestinal Obstruction:

– In many cases, patients develop adhesions in the intestinal region after a surgery to the abdomen. This can further lead to blockage of the intestine and create various complications.

– Apart from that, this condition can also be the result of colon cancer and it can cause long-term damage to the intestine.

– You should also be very careful about hernia as the intestine can easily protrude to other regions and get reduced blood supply. This will eventually lead to tissue death and cause intestinal blockage.

– It is also well known that people suffering from inflammatory bowel disorders display signs of this condition. It can also be the result of Crohn’s disease in many cases.

– When the digestive tract suffers from inflammation or has any form of infection, you may suffer from intestinal blockage and can be very painful.

– In some cases, the colon can get affected or twisted due to various other underlying conditions and this can also cause blockage in the intestinal region.

– In other cases, the reason may not be a physical blockage and it can be due to infection or muscle disorders. In this situation, the muscles will not be able to contract and expand in a natural way to pass the food materials through the intestine and this creates a temporary blockage in that region.

– It can easily happen after you have undergone a pelvic surgery and this will usually go away on its own after a few weeks.

– You should also be very careful about certain medication as they can affect the muscles in the abdominal region and lead to blocking of the intestine.

– Apart from these, some deadly diseases like ovarian cancer and colon cancer can also severely damage the intestine and lead to blockage.

– In rare cases, the even abnormal functioning of the thyroid glands can also lead to the blocking of the intestine and this needs long-term treatment to reduce the symptoms.

Diagnosis of Intestinal Obstruction:

– The first stage of diagnosis begins with a physical examination of the abdominal region and this can give a clear insight into the problem. In most cases, your doctor will suspect intestinal problems and further diagnosis will confirm the condition.

– Once the X-ray of the abdominal region is taken, the obstruction in the intestine can be seen in most cases. This will help the doctors to progress further with the treatment and they may suggest further imaging tests to determine the intensity of the problem. In some cases, getting a simple X-ray may not be enough as the blockage can be complicated and using other tests will give clear results in that situation.

– The CT scan and Ultrasound test are used after getting confirmation about blockage in the area from the other tests. In this way, the exact location of the blockage and damage done to the intestinal region will be determined. It also becomes easy to understand the cause for this condition and any sort of infection can be easily detected using such tests.

Prevention of Intestinal Obstruction:

There is no way in which you can prevent this condition. However, you can lead a healthy lifestyle and eat foods that are rich in fibre so that the digestion process can be easily handled without putting much pressure on the intestine. It also makes sense to avoid infections and other diseases as they can trigger this condition in many individuals. The best thing you can do in this situation is to be watchful about the symptoms and get in touch with your doctor as soon as you notice such symptoms. Remember that getting early treatment can make a lot of difference in the final outcome and you can get long-term relief without any complications in this manner.

Treatment for Intestinal Obstruction:

– The first stage of treatment will focus on easing the symptoms as most people come with extreme pain in this situation. In this regard, the swelling is reduced by removing the fluids from this region and intravenous medication may be given to improving the overall situation. This can reduce the weakness and also provide sufficient fluids to the body.

– In case the bladder is overloaded due to intestinal blockage, urine will be removed through a pipe and this can provide immediate relief from pain and swelling of the abdominal region.

– When you are suffering from partial obstruction of the intestine, the basic treatment will usually be enough and doctors will prefer to watch the situation for a few days. In most cases, people start recovering from this stage when they make some modifications to their diet and this will give sufficient time for your body to recover from this problem. Doctors will usually suggest some changes to your diet that will help your body to process the food easily without much pressure on the intestine. In cases where this method does not yield good results after a few weeks, surgery may be considered to provide long-term relief from the problem.

– In some cases, there may be partial damage to the intestine and it has to be removed to provide free access to the food materials. Your doctor may use some stents and wire mesh to cover the affected area and this can give you complete relief from the condition.

– After the surgery is performed, you will have to be careful for many months and follow a healthy lifestyle. Remember that inflammation of the intestine and another region can trigger such problems in future and you will have to eat a healthy diet and stay away from alcohol and smoking for a few weeks. You should also make it a point to eat healthy food that can be easily digested and this will reduce the chances of further blockage in the intestine region.


– There are numerous complications that can arise out of this condition and you should always treat them properly at the right time. Remember that in extreme cases, this can even lead to the death of the patient and emergency treatment is essential to reduce the symptoms.

– Some of the mild complications include dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance and this can cause tiredness and general weakness.

– When the intestine is no longer able to hold the pressure due to blockage, it can develop a hole that will pass on waste materials into other regions of the body. This usually causes infections and it can lead to various complications. When the blood gets infected in this situation and leads to sepsis, it can even lead to fatal consequences.

– The intestinal tissues can suffer huge damage even in the case of partial blockage and the tissues often die in the affected region leading to permanent damage to the intestinal tract. This can also affect the kidney and in extreme cases, it can even cause kidney failure.

– The blockage can reduce or completely block the supply of blood to the intestine region and this leads to a condition of tissue death in the affected area. This ruptures the intestine and causes severe infections in the body.

– In many cases, the infections can spread to other regions easily and even cause multiple organ failure. Often at this stage, treatment becomes very difficult and it can even lead to death.


There are many misconceptions about this condition and you need to be aware of them so that you can easily handle them in the future. Remember that you need to take this condition seriously as it can cause a lot of complications if treatment is not provided at the right time. Make sure to visit your doctor as soon as you notice pain and swelling in the abdominal region and taking early treatment can help you to get quick relief from the problem.

Myth #1: It affects only children

This is completely false and it can even affect adults. There is no particular reason to believe that it affects only children. The only thing that makes a difference is that it becomes easy to identify the problem in adults as they will be able to understand the symptoms clearly and they usually visit the doctor at the early stage. However, when it comes to infants, they may not be able to express the problem clearly and parents have to be very careful when they notice any drastic changes in the abdominal region like constant bloating and swelling. Some kids cry for a long duration due to pain and there may be some changes in bowel movements in this situation.

Myth #2: Intestinal Obstruction is not a serious condition

While partial obstruction will usually resolve on its own in due course, a complete blockage needs surgery and this is a serious condition. In extreme cases, this can even lead to death due to multiple organ failure. Note that this can completely cut off the blood supply to the affected region and cause tissue death. This usually ruptures the intestine and the waste materials leak into the other regions of the body cause severe infections. This can become very complicated in the long run and cause fatal consequences.

Myth #3: Surgery is needed to treat this condition

Surgery is needed only when there is a complete blockage of the intestine. In the case of partial blockage, medication may be enough to resolve the problem and things recover slowly after initial treatment is given to ease the symptoms.


You need to treat this condition seriously as this can cause fatal consequences when proper treatment is not given at the right time. Surgery is usually needed to treat complete blockage of the intestine and you have to take treatment for a long duration in this situation. However, handling partial blockage is not that difficult and you can easily get quick relief within a few weeks. Make sure that you observe the symptoms at the early stage in infants and provide proper treatment to avoid long-term damage to the intestine.

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