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Signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction

If any of these symptoms are observed, contact your doctor immediately.

Bowel obstruction or intestinal obstruction is an arrest of passage of waste through the intestine. The food, waste, fluids, gastric acids collect or build up near the blockage. If the pressure is too high, the intestine may rupture adding to complications. Colon cancer, thickening of intestinal walls due to Crohn s disease or an abdominal or pelvic surgery can be the causes of bowel obstruction. Tumours, narrowing of intestines, adhesions can also lead to intestinal obstruction. You will experience pain in waves or intervals when the bowels try to push the contents out through the obstructed area. Dr Debasish Datta, Consultant Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata shares with us the signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction that you must not ignore:

  • Sudden onset of abdominal pain. The abdominal pain is usually around the belly button region or below it. You will also experience cramps that come and go.
  • Pain associated with vomiting, or just vomiting. In kids, the vomiting may be yellowish-green in colour.
  • Bloating
  • Nausea. Here are 13 other causes of nausea and vomiting you should know.
  • Constipation and a lack of gas. There is no gas if the intestine is completely blocked.
  • Distended abdomen
  • You may also experience diarrhoea if intestine is partially blocked.
  • May be associated with previous history of surgery

When to see the doctor

If any of these symptoms persist longer than a week, consult your doctor immediately. If the abdominal pain is severe and constant along with vomiting, visit your doctor immediately. Patient will need blood tests, abdominal X-ray and CT abdomen with colonoscopy. The abdominal X-ray helps the doctor find any blockage in the intestine and CT scan will determine the extent of blockage. Sometimes surgery is required but conservative treatment may help. If ignored, bowel obstruction may be fatal. It can lead to infection in the abdominal cavity that may require surgical intervention. Read: For how long is it normal to not poop.

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