Bowel Obstruction: What It Is and How to Prevent It

May 7th 2016

It may not be possible to completely avoid or prevent a bowel obstruction, but careful dietary changes can minimize your risks. Consult with your physician if you are experiencing symptoms of a bowel obstruction to determine the best treatment option.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a bowel obstruction may vary, but it is likely you experience abdominal cramps or pain, diarrhea or constipation and an inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement. Some patients experience nausea, vomiting and swelling of the abdomen.

Causes

A blockage in the intestines may be caused by adhesions on the intestines, a hernia, inflammatory bowel disease or twisting of the intestines. You may also experience a bowel obstruction if you have a tumor in the small intestine or an infection in the colon. Certain eating habits can also make people prone to bowel obstructions.

Treatment

Treatment for a bowel obstruction often depends on the condition causing your obstruction. Physicians may opt to place an IV in your arm to administer fluids to soften your bowels or suck out fluid and air from the stomach with a nasogastric tube to relieve swelling in the abdomen.

Prevention

Dietary changes are commonly recommended to prevent bowel obstructions. People prone to obstructions or individuals diagnosed with a small obstruction should eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day and adopt a low-fiber diet that eliminates whole grains, nuts and seeds. Avoid fatty and greasy foods as these are more difficult to digest. Foods that form gas such as gassy vegetables, beans or soft drinks are not recommended either. The key is to stay hydrated with plenty of fluids such as broth, tea, juice and water to flush out the system.

Conclusion

A bowel or intestinal obstruction is defined as a blockage that prevents liquid or food from passing through your large or small intestine. You may experience difficulty having a bowel movement because of the blockage from tissue in the abdomen becoming infected or inflamed. A bowel obstruction can lead to serious medical issues when not treated.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Intestinal obstruction definition" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/intestinal-obstruction/basics/definition/con-20027567
PennMedicine.org "Prevention of a small bowel obstruction" http://www.pennmedicine.org/pahosp/cancer/programs/gyn_onc/small_bowel.html

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