According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a bowel obstruction include intermittent cramping, abdominal discomfort, constipation, bloating, diarrhea and difficulty expelling intestinal gas. Bowel obstructions prevent digested food and liquids from passing into the colon and can lead to severe complications if not treated, so it is important for individuals experiencing symptoms of a potential bowel obstruction to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
WebMD explains that bowel obstructions typically occur in the small intestine and can be caused by a variety of factors that include scar tissue development, hernias, tumors and twisted intestinal tissue. These factors can cause partial or total blockages in the intestine that can lead to hindered blood flow, which in turn can result in tissue damage.
According to MedlinePlus, a condition called paralytic ileus is a common cause of bowel obstructions in children. Causes of paralytic ileus include potassium imbalances, bacterial intestinal infections, appendicitis and lung disease. Additional causes of bowel obstruction in adults include gallstones and impacted stools. Bowel obstructions can be treated with surgical procedures in which tubes are inserted into the intestines in order to relieve pressure. Complications of intestinal obstructions can include imbalanced electrolytes, dehydration, intestinal perforations, infections and jaundice, a condition in which the eyes and skin turn yellow in color.