While we may take for granted our ability to simply move our bowels, we know that the smooth functioning of this essential aspect of our digestion is no small matter. As with any interference in our health, gratitude runs deep when things are working well, for the alternative can be painful, costly and dangerous to our well being.
Bowel obstruction, otherwise known as intestinal obstruction can cause tremendous problems, as it disallows the contents of the intestine to pass through and exit the body.
There can be a number of different causes for bowel, or intestinal obstruction, including the following:
something may literally be blocking or obstructing the passage, which is known as a mechanical obstruction. This can be fecal matter or something else.
Ileus, a condition in which the bowel doesn't work correctly but there is no structural problem
Paralytic ileus, also called pseudo-obstruction, is one of the major causes of intestinal obstruction in infants and children. Causes of paralytic ileus may include:
Chemical, electrolyte, or mineral disturbances (such as decreased potassium levels)
Complications of intra-abdominal surgery
Decreased blood supply to the abdominal area (mesenteric artery ischemia)
Injury to the abdominal blood supply
Kidney or lung disease
Use of certain medications, particularly narcotics
In older children, paralytic ileus may be due to bacterial, viral, or food poisoning (gastroenteritis), which is sometimes associated with secondary peritonitis and appendicitis.
The underlying causes of mechanical intestinal obstruction may include the following:
Abnormal tissue growth
Adhesions or scar tissue that form after surgery
Foreign bodies (ingested materials that obstruct the intestines)
Impacted feces (stool)
Tumors blocking the intestines
Volvulus (twisted intestine)
Some of the following are common symptoms seen with bowel obstruction:
Abdominal fullness, gaseous
Abdominal pain and cramping
The tests most often used to show obstruction include:
Abdominal CT scan
Upper GI and small bowel series
Treatment involves placing a tube through the nose into the stomach or intestine to help relieve abdominal distention and vomiting.
In cases where the tube does not alleviate the symptoms, surgery is the next choice for treatment.
As with any medical condition, it is crucial to pursue medical attention and treatment immediately following an episode of pain, discomfort, or a sense of not having things function as they usually do.
Paralytic ileus; Intestinal volvulus; Bowel obstruction; Ileus; Pseudo-obstruction - intestinal; Colonic ileus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000260.htm)
Aimee Boyle is a teacher, freelance writer, mother and dog owner, as well as a blog writer (see http://straightandnarrow.yolasite.com) and regular contributor to EmpowHer magazine.