The causes of intussusception in children are not fully known. Researchers believe that intestinal infections may contribute to this disease. The presence of a polyp or a tumor may also trigger the condition.
Intussusception, pronounced as ‘in-tuh-suh-sep-tion’, is one of the most common causes of intestinal blockage in children. By intestinal obstruction, we mean one segment of the intestine slides into another, like the parts of a telescope. It shuts off the blood flow to the affected area. Due to this blockage, the intestine can die, and the child can have significant bleeding, swelling, and eventually decreased blood flow. It is important to identify the symptoms early for better prognosis.
Symptoms in Infants
The symptoms may vary from child to child, but those mentioned below are found in most of the cases. Let us take a look at them.
- The infant may experience sudden, severe intestinal pain or belly pain. The pain may make the child scream drawing his knees in an upward position. In the initial stages, the bout of pain may last anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, but as the problem aggravates, the duration will be longer.
- We know that children in the age group of 3 months to 2 years generally vomit, but if the vomit is green in color, then it can be a symptom of intussusception.
- One of the most notable symptoms is that the child may pass bloody stool. If left unnoticed, the stool may change its color to deep red with the presence of mucus, making it appear like a jelly.
- A sausage-shaped abdominal mass may be palpable in the right upper right side of the abdomen.
- The child may also develop fever in the later phase of the condition. A child will go into shock, because of low blood pressure and turn pale, sweaty and lethargic.
If your child is facing any of these symptoms, you do not need to panic as it does not necessarily mean that he/she is suffering from the condition. Instead, you should call up your physician and get the child checked-up.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor may ask you about the medical history of the child. Children with intussusception have a recent history of stomach pain and swelling. In the physical examination, the doctor may check your child’s belly and look for other physical signs like dehydration and shock. To check for internal symptoms, the doctor may conduct an X-ray and ultrasound of the abdominal area. One of the other ways of diagnosing intussusception is by contrast enema. In contrast enema, air or barium is entered through the child’s anus to check for the blockage. Treatment can be done by air enema or liquid enema. If this mode of treatment does not work out, then a surgery may be required. It can either be a laparoscopic or open surgery, which may vary from child to child.
Symptoms in Adults
Adult intussusception is relatively rare and forms about 10% to 12% of all the cases reported. Unlike infants, in adults, it occurs as a small or large bowel obstruction. Some of the common symptoms in adults are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting etc. and some less frequent symptoms are melena, weight loss, fever and constipation. As mentioned before, these are merely symptoms and do not really mean that one is suffering from intussusception. Proper diagnosis is always advised, and self-medication should be avoided at all costs.
Many times, we have seen people believing that they or their children are suffering from the disease by matching the symptoms. We cannot tell if the symptoms really imply the presence of the disease, but one thing we are sure is that nobody except a specialist would be able to identify the disease. So, if you feel that you or someone you know has some of the symptoms mentioned here, the first thing to do is to consult your doctor and follow the right procedures.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.