Could You Have a Bowel Obstruction?

Food not moving through the intestines or gut may cause face bowel obstructions. Several factors can cause bowel obstructions, such as tumors, bowel cancer, hernias, adhesions, or other health conditions diagnosed by your health specialist.

The common cause may be the fibrous tissue bands, called Adhesions, in the abdomen forming after surgery or hernia, colon cancer, certain medicines, or inflamed intestine because of Crohn’s disease, which can act as a blockage.

Bowel or Intestine Obstructions

Intestinal obstructions, commonly called bowel obstructions, stop the flow of food and liquid from moving down from the small or large intestine. Bowel obstructions are obstructions in the intestine when something prevents food and fluid from moving through your intestine. Bowel motion blockage can cause cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, gas, feces, or poo.

A bowel obstruction can call for an emergency. You may need to get hospitalized to treat bowel obstructions and prevent advanced complications. See a doctor if you experience bowel obstruction frequently or if you have the symptoms.

Some severe types of bowel obstruction may lead to serious complications and even death. It may require invasive procedures, such as surgery or other non-invasive procedures, to remove the blockage.

Types of Bowel Obstructions

  • Blockage in the large or small intestine

  • Partial blockage is a blockage in some part of the bowel where some feces or poo can pass

  • A complete blockage means even gas cannot pass through.

  • A simple blockage is just a blockage

  • Complex blockage, where the blockage has caused a break in the blood supply to the bowel, causing damage to the bowel.

Bowel Obstruction Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the cause and the location of bowel obstruction,

Obstruction in the Small Bowel

We can feel the symptoms of the obstruction in the small bowel rapidly.

  • Cramp

  • Pain in the abdomen

  • Upper abdominal pain

  • Pain around the belly button

  • Cannot pass the bowel motion or gas

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

If the pain is persistent and growing, it implies the blockage is cutting off the blood supply to your bowel.

Obstruction in the Large Bowel

The symptoms of the obstruction in the large bowel develop gradually and are typically low in severity.

  • Constipation that grows from mild to severe until it stops passing the bowel motions or gas

  • Bloating

  • Lower abdominal cramps

  • Vomiting may start after the other common symptoms

The obstruction in the large bowel can cause persistent pain suddenly. The pain severity depends on the cause.

Causes of Bowel Obstructions if you Have

In adults, the most common causes include −

  • Adhesions

  • Hernias

  • Tumors

Other Causes Include

  • Inflammation in bowel

  • Bowel disease (Crohn’s disease)

  • Volvulus (some parts of the bowel twist)

  • Diverticulitis

  • Intussusception (part of the bowel folds in)

  • Gallstones

  • Foreign elements or objects swallowed.

  • Constipation in severe form

  • Functional obstruction (Bowel muscles not contracting as expected to push feces along)

  • Mechanical obstructions caused by surgery in the abdomen, injuries, disorder in nerve or muscle, abdominal infection, opioid medications, and low potassium level.

Bowel Obstruction Diagnosis

  • Discuss with a doctor about your symptoms

  • Abdominal tests

  • Blood tests

  • X-Ray or CT scan

Bowel Obstruction Treatments

The causes determine the treatment of bowel obstruction. You need to visit a hospital to treat and monitor bowel obstruction.

Bowel Obstruction Hospital Treatments

  • Monitoring urine output

  • Intravenous (IV) fluid drip

  • Medications like anti-nausea and painkillers

  • Colonoscopy

  • Sigmoidoscopy

  • Insertion of the nasogastric tube through the nose down to your stomach for severe bloating or vomiting

  • Surgery (some need immediate surgery, and some start with IV fluids or medicine under supervision for 2-3 days before surgery)

  • Bowel cancer (needs immediate surgery to eradicate the affected area of the bowel)

If medications and IV fluid help, you may not need any surgery.

Prevention of Bowel Obstruction

You can prevent bowel obstruction even before it occurs. Some of you cannot stop it but mitigate the chance and the severity of the bowel getting blocked.


  • Fibre is the best food to prevent bowel obstruction.

  • For narrowed bowel, soluble fiber is the best. Avoid insoluble fiber.

  • We source insoluble fiber from the rough plant parts.

  • Insoluble fibers are the skins of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain, nuts, seeds

  • Insoluble fiber may get blocked in the narrow portion of the bowel and cannot pass.

Ways to Avoid Insoluble Fiber

  • Peel and cut vegetables fine and in small pieces, and cook them well by removing seeds

  • Avoid swallowing, chew food well in the mouth before ingesting

  • Avoid hard and stringy food

  • Avoid nuts and seeds

  • Avoid whole grains and eat white bread, pasta rice.

  • Drink fluids and water to avoid constipation caused by these types of diets

  • Exercise that helps bowel movement

  • A doctor may suggest laxative medications

  • Try natural, herbal, Ayurvedic medicines under a doctor’s supervision

  • Consult a dietician for a smother diet that helps bowel movement

Prevent the Causes of Bowel Obstruction

Let’s learn some helpful ways to avoid the causes of bowel obstruction as much as possible.

  • Smoking can cause severe irrevocable constipation.

  • Smoking can develop bowel cancer or hernia.

  • To lower the risk of bowel cancer, add dairy products.

  • Include wholegrain and dietary fiber in your diet.

  • Avoid red and processed meat.

  • Maintain weight as per your BMI.

  • Daily exercise of 30 mins, yoga to promote bowel movement.

  • Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day or moderate drinking a week.

  • Get regular checkups, blood tests, and screening tests to detect symptoms of bowel cancer.

  • If you experience any symptoms mentioned earlier, consult a doctor immediately.

  • In the worst bowel obstructions like Crohn’s disease, follow the doctor’s instructions or get admitted to a hospital to keep the condition under control.


No treatment of the affected part of the intestine can cause its death or severe complications. Timely treatment can remove the blockage and its cause and successfully remove the chances of recurrence in the future.

Updated on: 20-Apr-2023


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