Intestinal obstruction refers to complete or partial obstruction of the small or large intestine, which prevents the normal movements of solid, fluid or gas within the intestines. Obstruction in the small intestine is called as small bowel obstruction while in the large intestine is called as colonic obstruction or large bowel obstruction.
What are the Causes of Intestinal Obstruction?
Intestinal obstruction may be mechanical or non-mechanical. Mechanical obstruction is caused when something physical blocks the part of your intestine. Different causes of obstructions are discussed below:
What are the Mechanical Causes of Small Intestine Obstructions?
- Adhesions: These are a type of scar, which are areas of tough and fibrous connective tissue. Adhesions usually develop when the injured pelvic organs or intestine heals after infection or surgery. Adhesions can cause blockage in the small intestine when they are pulled into the shape of a constricting band.
- Hernia: It is a condition when a part of the small intestine protrudes through the weak areas of the abdomen. The hernia is the common cause of small intestine obstructions.
- Tumours: They cause obstructions to small intestine either by growing within the wall of the intestine or pressing on the outside of the bowel and closing it.
- Crohn’s Disease: It is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes obstructions in small intestine.
- Volvulus: It is a condition that refers to twisting of a part of the intestine around itself. The twisting forms a loop of bowel that leads to obstruction.
- Intussusception: It is the folding or telescoping of one part of the intestine with another that causes blockage of the intestine.
What are the Mechanical Causes of Large Intestine Obstructions?
- Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer is one the major causes of obstruction in large intestine. Colon cancer gradually constricts the inner passageway of the large intestine. In most cases, patients suffer from constipation before the large bowel finally becomes blocked.
- Diverticular Disease: Diverticulitis is a condition where small balloon type bags that bulge out from the wall of the intestine becomes infected or inflamed.
- Stricture: When infections are healed, scars (stricture) are formed on the wall of colon that narrows the passage of the colon.
What is Paralytic Ileus?
Non-mechanical obstruction of the intestine is known as paralytic ileus. The intestine is not physically blocked but stops contracting to bring the movement of food through the digestive system. A few of the causes of paralytic ileus includes medicines such as sedatives and opioids that slow down peristalsis. Other causes include gastroenteritis, post-surgery complications, electrolyte imbalance, appendicitis, and blockage of the mesenteric artery that supplies blood to the abdomen.
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What are Intestinal Obstruction Symptoms?
Symptoms of Intestinal obstruction depend on the cause of the blockage. A few of the symptoms are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to pass gas through rectum
- Abdominal bloating and gas
- Pain and cramps in abdomen that feels like intense waves striking at intervals of five to fifteen minutes. Patient may also experience rapid breathing and pulse during cramps
- Rectal bleeding is experienced by patients if the obstruction is caused by a colon tumour
- Maximum cases of bowel obstruction are treated in the hospital and require hospitalization. Treatment involves inserting a flexible and lubricated nasogastric tube (NG tube) through the nose into the intestine or stomach to help relieve the symptoms of vomiting and abdominal distention.
- If the bowel obstruction is caused by volvulus, it can be relieved by passing a colonoscope through the rectum as it unwinds the intestine and relieves the blockage.
- Surgery is often required in cases of complete bowel obstruction and helps eradicate the cause of the blockage such as stricture, adhesions and tumor. It fixes the part of the intestine at risk of repeated volvulus. Your doctor may also remove strangulated or damaged part of the intestine during the surgery.
- For obstructed intestine caused due to ileus, your doctor may prescribe medicines depending upon your causes and symptoms. Usually, normal movement of intestinal contents can be resumed with drugs.
How Intestinal Obstruction Tested?
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination where he may look for hernias, tenderness and bloating in the abdomen. An obstruction in the intestine is confirmed by abdominal X-rays and computed tomography (CT scan). Blood test may also be done when symptoms include vomiting, which helps check for loss of electrolytes and dehydration. Colonoscopy is used for diagnosis if your doctor suspects you have a large intestine obstruction.
What are the Treatment for Intestinal Obstruction?
You can also consider using a colon cleansing supplement such as DiaResQ, which may provide relief from all gut-related problems including Intestinal Obstruction.
What are the Possible Complications?
If left untreated, intestinal obstruction can be serious or life-threatening. Some of the complications include the spread of infection, the spread of cancer, intestinal hole or perforation, and death (necrosis) of tissues and gangrene.
How is it Prevented?
It is possible to reduce the risk of some types of bowel obstructions by altering your lifestyle and diet. People with hernias should avoid lifting heavy weights as this may force a part of the intestine to protrude out. Colorectal cancer can be prevented by taking a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Getting yourself tested for signs of colorectal cancer after the age of 50 is highly recommended.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that are associated with intestinal obstructions, it is important that you seek medical care as soon as possible in order to receive timely treatment and avoid any serious complications. You can also use a cleansing supplement such as Go Nutrients Intestinal Edge which can provide instant relief from the intestinal problems.