Bowel obstruction complications can lead to life-threatening situation if left untreated. Read on, to know the symptoms of health complications that may result from an obstruction of the small and large intestine…
Bowel obstruction can be experienced by elderly as well as children. Obstruction of the small intestine is more common than obstruction of the large intestine. Small intestine helps digest the food while large intestine helps hold and throw away the waste material. The intestines thus play an important role in maintaining the health of an individual. Intestinal obstruction can be partial or complete, in any case, blockage of the intestinal contents can lead to serious health complications.
Small and Large Bowel Obstruction
- Intussusception (telescoping) of the intestine can lead to obstruction.
- Gallstones or growing tumors, especially cancerous tumors within your abdomen, can block the intestines.
- Twisting of the intestine, known as volvulus, can lead to intestinal obstruction. You should read more on twisted bowel symptoms and causes.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, leads to thickening of the intestine’s walls. This results in narrowing of the intestinal passageway.
- Bowel obstruction is often noticed as a complication after abdominal or pelvic surgery. Surgeries often lead to scar tissues (bands of fibrous tissue) or adhesion which result in intestinal obstruction.
- Hernia is one of the most common causes of intestinal obstructions. Portions of intestine, protruding into another part of the body are referred to as hernias. Obstruction due to tumors or hernias is termed as ‘mechanical obstruction’.
- Dysfunction of the intestine itself (paralytic ileus) due to muscle or nerve problems, can lead to prevention of food and fluid from passing smoothly through the digestive tract. Certain muscle and nerve disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, use of certain medications (narcotics), abdominal or pelvic surgery, an infection, can cause paralytic ileus.
- In infants and children, paralytic ileus can be caused by ingestion of foreign bodies, or electrolyte deficiency, or mineral disturbances, for example, low potassium levels; or by decreased blood supply to abdominal area.
- Impacted feces, colon cancer, twisting of the colon (volvulus), diverticulitis (inflammation of the bulging pouches in the colon due to infection) can cause obstruction in the colon. Inflammation and scarring can cause narrowing of the colon, leading to obstruction.
- Abdominal distention, swollen stomach even without eating
- Abdominal fullness, gas
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bad breath
- Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Shortness of breath
- Some people may experience dizziness, intense sleepiness
The symptoms of intestinal obstruction may vary from person to person, depending on the affected portion and extent of severity. In mild conditions, symptoms may come and go. The condition at this stage may not be a severe health condition but neglecting such symptoms can worsen the situation.
Intestinal obstruction can seriously affect your digestive health and in turn your overall health. Moreover, due to the obstruction, the supply of oxygen, blood and nutrients to the intestinal portion and the remaining digestive tract can get cut off. If the condition is not treated promptly, the intestinal wall can die. Tissue death (necrosis) can cause a tear or perforation in the intestinal wall, increasing the chances of infection and gangrene. The infection in the abdominal cavity is termed as peritonitis. Proper medications and surgery may be required to correct the condition (depending upon the underlying cause). In infants, paralytic ileus can result in destruction of the bowel wall which can prove to be a life-threatening condition. It may even lead to blood and lung infections.
Intestinal obstruction is a serious condition that needs prompt medical attention. Complications after bowel obstruction surgery include formation of scar tissue again causing blockage in the future, bleeding inside the abdomen, bowel leakage, damage to nearby organs, infection, temporary paralytic ileus, opening of the wound, or the edges of your intestines that are sewn together, etc. Only an expert surgeon can handle the situation well.