If you have an intestinal blockage, food and stool may not be able to move freely.
When your intestine works normally, digested food moves from your stomach to your rectum. Along the way, your body breaks food down into usable pieces. The rest is eliminated as stool, or feces.
An intestinal blockage may halt this natural process. A complete blockage is an emergency and needs immediate medical attention.
The possible reasons for an intestinal blockage are:
You may be at risk of an intestinal blockage if you have:
Symptoms of intestinal blockage are:
To diagnose your condition, your healthcare provider will consider:
Treatment for your intestinal blockage will depend on the cause. If your intestine is completely blocked (no food or stool can move through), immediate surgery is needed. The goal is to remove the blockage and repair your organs.
Many blockages will open up on their own with supportive care. It would be good to avoid surgery since it can sometimes cause more scarring. Your healthcare provider might recommend that you not eat until your symptoms improve or limit you to clear liquids. After this, a “low-residue” diet may be advised to try to get things moving. This diet includes foods and liquids, such as yogurt, which will not add to the blockage.
Your healthcare provider may use a small, flexible tube to take intestinal contents out until the bowel blockage is resolved, instead of more invasive surgery. You will need intravenous fluids and sometimes electrolyte replacement. You may also need pain medicine.
Complications of intestinal blockage include:
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. If he or she has advised you to change your diet as part of your treatment, stick to the new plan. The goal of the diet is to reduce the work that your digestive tract has to do, while still giving you the nutrition you need.
If you have symptoms of intestinal blockage, such as severe belly pain, vomiting, and inability to pass stool, seek immediate medical attention.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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