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Intestinal Obstruction Symptoms

Also known as bowel obstruction, intestinal obstruction is partial or complete blockage of the intestines. This article talks about the various symptoms of this condition, that one should look out for, to avoid any serious complications.
Deeptee A
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
When the intestines get blocked and the contents cannot pass outside the body, waste materials and gas cannot pass through them at all. When the intestines are partially blocked, some gas and contents may pass outside the body. Not only is this condition unhealthy, it also causes a lot of discomfort to the person.
There are several reasons why the intestines may be blocked. Hernias, gallstones, adhesion, and tumors are some of the causes for both, the small and the large intestines to be blocked.
As mentioned above, intestinal obstruction can be partial or complete. Partial intestinal blockage can be caused due to a twisted colon, abnormal tissue growth, disease, etc. The intestinal obstruction symptoms for partial blockage are given below.
Fullness of Abdomen
When your intestines are blocked, partially or completely, there are less or no bowel movements. Hence, you start feeling full even when you have not eaten. Also, when the food is digested in your intestines, gas is formed. This gas is formed when you eat too much food that is difficult to digest, when you are on strong medication, or when you swallow air while eating your meals. This gas makes you feel full and also causes bloating. It may also lead to cramps in your stomach.
Pain in the Abdomen
When you feel pain in your stomach, anywhere between your chest and waist, you are said to be suffering from abdominal pain. This pain may be due to the process of digestion going wrong. All the organs related to digestion processes like the pancreas, small and large intestines, liver, etc., may start troubling you if they find the food difficult to digest. When these organs start giving trouble and pain, you suffer from abdominal pain.
When you do not have stool movement for more than a day, you are suffering from constipation. This is one of the most common intestinal obstruction symptoms. Consult your doctor for treatment and if he feels that your blockage is not serious, he may prescribe some stool softeners for you.
As the food does not pass through the intestines and as you feel full in spite of not eating, there are chances that you might feel like vomiting. The intestinal and stomach content are thrown out through the mouth due to the blockage. The stomach pains while vomiting.
Breath Odor
When your intestines are blocked, your breath might start smelling like feces due to vomiting. Even if the condition is temporary, it might smell dirty. When you vomit a lot and when you have bad breath, it is an intestinal obstruction symptom.
When a child's intestines are blocked due to hernia, foreign objects, volvulus, or adhesions, they are said to suffer from intestinal obstruction. The symptoms in children are -
  • Vomiting - due to the intestines being blocked, the child throws up all the food. This is accompanied by pain in the abdomen.
  • Cramps - the child may pull up his/her legs and cry out aloud due to the cramps in the stomach. These cramps may come and go every few minutes.
  • Blood in Stool - the child may pass some blood in the stool. Also the time taken for the bowel movements is more and painful.
  • Swollen Abdomen - the abdomen becomes swollen and tender to touch. This is a classic symptom of obstructed bowels.
The child may be dehydrated, there may be less activity, and the child might feel fatigued and sluggish when suffering from this condition. If the child does not stop crying and there are no bowel movements, it is necessary to take the child to the doctor in order to avoid further complications.
Dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, regurgitation, and belching are the other symptoms. If the symptoms persist for more than a day, consult your doctor immediately. The doctor will not only be able to diagnose the problem and treat it on time, but will also stop any further complications from arising. Do not take the symptoms lightly and treat them on time.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.