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A bowel obstruction is a condition in which the small or large intestine becomes completely or partly blocked. The blockage in these internal organs causes many problems as it is responsible for preventing the food, fluids and gas from moving through the intestines in a normal manner.

Bowel Obstruction Causes

There are numerous different factors which may cause bowel obstruction. Mechanical obstructions include narrowing of the intestines, twisting of the intestines, scar tissues and tumors. If the obstruction occurs in the small intestine, it is commonly triggered by scar tissue. Narrowing or twisting of the intestines is usually caused by Crohn’s disease or hernia. Tumors in the intestines are caused by cancer. Sometimes an obstruction occurs like a telescope camera, when the parts of the intestine fold one into another. This medical condition is referred to as intussusception. When the obstruction occurs in the large intestine, it is commonly triggered by cancer. Other possible causes of obstruction in the large intestine include severe constipation triggered by a hard mass of stool and narrowing or twisting of the intestines. These occurrences are usually triggered by medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis.


There are certain symptoms of bowel obstruction which are the easiest way to recognize this medical condition. The most common symptoms include bloating, vomiting, reoccurring belly pain and cramping, diarrhea when the blockage is partial and lack of gas or constipation when the blockage is complete. If a person suffers from constant, severe belly pain it may indicate a cut off blood supply or a hole in the intestine, so immediate medical condition needs to be sought. The doctor usually checks the belly for bloating and tenderness. Some cases may require an abdominal x-ray in order to locate the blockage properly. There are also certain cases which may need to involve a CT scan of the belly. This type of scan is done in order to determine whether the blockage is complete or partial.


Most cases of bowel obstruction need to be treated in the hospital. In some cases, the doctors place a tube called nasogastric tube which goes through the nose all the way down to the stomach and it is there to remove gas and fluids and also to relieve pressure and pain. Certain medications may also be used in order to relieve nausea and pain. Partial blockage may be treated with enema or stents. The last option for the treatment is surgery.

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