Intestinal obstruction

An intestinal (or bowel) obstruction (ileus) leads to a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overview

An intestinal (or bowel) obstruction (ileus) leads to a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. This can be caused by a mechanical obstruction, but also by inflammation or an accident, etc. Typical symptoms include stomach pain, constipation, nausea and the inability to pass wind. This must be treated as an absolute emergency.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

Other symptoms

  • Bloated belly
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Adhesion, concretion or twisting of the intestine
  • Tumours (bowel cancer)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. Crohn’s disease)
  • Foreign bodies (e.g. hard masses of fecal matter or gallstones)
  • Peritonitis
  • Bowel infarction
  • Medication (in particular opiates)
  • After bowel surgery

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Listening to abdominal sounds (stethoscope)
  • Blood test (inflammatory markers, among others)
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Antibiotics (for bacterial infections)
  • Operation (to remove the blockage in the intestine)

When to see a doctor?

Synonyms

intestinal obturation, ileus, intestinal paralysis, bowel obstruction

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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