What Are the Symptoms of a Strangulated Bowel?

Bloating, loss of appetite and cramping pain are all symptoms of a strangulated bowel, reports The Merck Manual Home Edition. Other potential signs of intestinal blockage include vomiting, constipation, fever and diarrhea.

A strangulated bowel can manifest itself in a number of ways depending on the cause, location and severity of the condition, according to The Merck Manual Home Edition. If the strangulation is located in the small bowel, vomiting may occur as a primary symptom. If a blockage is located in the large intestine, vomiting sometimes begins later or does not occur at all. If the bowel is completely obstructed, patients almost always experience constipation. Sometimes, a partially obstructed bowel causes diarrhea. Abdominal pain with a strangulated bowel is usually steady and serious.

Causes of intestinal strangulation include volvulus, in which a loop of bowel becomes twisted, and intussusception, where a section of bowel collapses into an adjacent section. A strangulated hernia, in which a loop of bowel protrudes through the abdominal muscle wall, can also cause the condition, notes The Merck Manual Home Edition.

Doctors use several methods, including X-rays, to diagnose a strangulated bowel. Patients are hospitalized and given fluids and electrolytes to support recovery. Surgery may be employed to relieve the strangulation, states The Merck Manual Home Edition and Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine.