What are the symptoms of bowel obstruction?

Symptoms of bowel obstruction primarily affect the gastrointestinal system and include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal fullness and distension (bloating), stomach pain and spasms, and constipation.

Common symptoms of bowel obstruction

Symptoms of bowel obstruction primarily affect the gastrointestinal tract and include:

  • Abdominal swelling, distension or bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Gas
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Stomach pain and spasms

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

Bowel obstruction can be a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have these serious symptoms including:

  • Abdominal swelling, distension or bloating
  • Absent bowel sounds
  • Fever
  • Inability to eliminate feces or pass gas
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Stomach pain and spasms
INTRODUCTION

What is bowel obstruction?

The bowel, or intestine, is the part of the digestive tract that absorbs nutrients and fluid from foods we eat. The residue of digested food passes through the bowel and is excreted during elimination, the final stage of digestion. This process can be interrupted or halted by the presence of a bowel obstruction, which is a blockage that prevents the passage of intestinal contents. The caus... Read more about bowel obstructionintroduction

CAUSES

What causes bowel obstruction?

A bowel obstruction occurs when there is a blockage that prevents the passage of intestinal contents that should be excreted. Blockages can be mechanical or caused by ileus.

Mechanical causes of bowel obstruction

Mechanical obstructions are physical blockages due to various causes including:

TREATMENTS

How is bowel obstruction treated?

Treatment of bowel obstruction begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider, who will likely admit you to the hospital for treatment. Treatment usually involves placing a tube through the nose or stomach to alleviate the symptoms. In some cases, surgery is needed to clear the obstruction or treat the underlying cause.

Treatment to relieve the swelling or dis... Read more about bowel obstructiontreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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