Intestinal obstruction

Intestinal obstruction is a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through your small intestine or large intestine (colon). Intestinal obstruction may be caused by fibrous bands of tissue in the abdomen (adhesions) which form after surgery, inflamed or infected pouches in your intestine (diverticulitis), hernias and tumors.

Without treatment, the blocked parts of the intestine can die, leading to serious problems. However, with prompt medical care, intestinal obstruction often can be successfully treated.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of intestinal obstruction include:

  • Crampy abdominal pain that comes and goes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Swelling of the abdomen (distention)

When to see a doctor

Because of the serious complications that can develop from intestinal obstruction, seek immediate medical care if you have severe abdominal pain or other symptoms of intestinal obstruction.

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