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What are the symptoms for a blocked bowel?

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Quick Answer

Blocked bowel is called intestinal obstruction, and symptoms include cramping abdominal pain that comes and goes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms include inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas and abdominal distension, explains Mayo Clinic. Complications of obstruction include tissue death and infection.

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Full Answer

Intestinal obstruction prevents food and liquids from passing through the intestine because of a mechanical blockage of the small intestines or the colon or because of paralytic ileus, according to Mayo Clinic. The causes of obstruction of the small intestines include intestinal adhesions that form after abdominal or pelvic surgery, hernias, intestinal tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, twisting of the colon and telescoping of the small intestine.

The causes mechanical obstruction of the large intestine include colon cancer, diverticulitis, twisting of the colon, fecal impaction and narrowing of the colon due to inflammation and scarring, lists Mayo Clinic. Paralytic ileus causes intestinal obstruction because of a problem in the nerves or muscles of the intestines, which can decrease intestinal motility. Common causes include abdominal surgery, pelvic surgery, infection, medications, and muscle or nerve disorders.

The treatment of intestinal obstruction includes observation, medications and surgery, suggests Mayo Clinic. Patients with a partial obstruction are monitored and prescribed a high-fiber diet, after which the obstruction often clears. A partial obstruction that does not resolve on its own is treated with surgery. Complete obstruction is treated with surgery during which the blockage is removed and a section of dead intestine is excised. Paralytic ileus may be temporary and can clear up on its own. Prolonged episodes are treated with medication that increases intestinal muscle contractions.

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