So You’ve Got a Large Bowel Obstruction- What Now?


So You’ve Got a Large Bowel Obstruction- What Now?

 “Health is wealth.” Nobody can deny this fact. In order to live a healthy life, an active bowel movement is an absolute must. After all, who likes the feeling of being constipated? For most people, being unable to go is uncomfortable,and in fact, an obstruction in the bowel could be a real pain for you.

One such problem related to the bowels is a large bowel obstruction. Now you must be wondering, “What is that?” If yes, look no further; in this article, you can learn everything about it and more. Considering how common it is in today’s world, we are sure you’d love to know more about this subject.

Keep reading as we will solve all the mysteries concerning bowel obstructions. Besides, we will share some tips and tricks in the latter part of this article, about how you can cure large bowel obstructions right at home. So, be sure to read all the way to the end of this article, so you don’t miss a thing.

1. A Large Bowel Obstruction: What You Should Know

surgical or medical treatmentAs the name suggests, a large bowel obstruction occurs when there is a blockage in the large bowel. This eventually stops the food from passing through. It also happens when there is a severe blockage in the rectum or colon, mainly in the elderly. This may require surgical or medical treatment.

There are varied kinds of obstructions in the bowels and each requires a different treatment. It is essential to differentiate between colonic obstructions from ileus and pseudo-obstruction from mechanical obstruction. A doctor can help you in this regard.

2. What Causes an Intestinal Obstruction?

There are many causes of intestinal obstruction. Here are a few examples:

  • Diverticular Disease: In this disease, small, protruding pouches are formed in your digestive tract. These can be of three types, namely, diverticular bleeding, diverticulitis and diverticulosis. Diverticulosis coupled with consecutive scarring and muscular wall hypertrophy can constrict the colon and result in a large bowel obstruction.
  • Colon Cancer: Generally, half of the cases of large bowel obstruction are due to this factor. The inner wall of the larger intestines produces a malignant tumour that results in colorectal cancer.

Your lifestyle influences, such as smoking, obesity and poor diet are a few of the reasons why this disease spreads. Old age can also be another major factor. It is significant to know that genetic disorders leading to colon cancer are rare.

  • Sigmoid Volvulus: Volvulus in Latin means “to twist.” Just as the name suggests, sigmoid volvulus occurs when the sigmoid colon twines on the sigmoid mesocolon. This resultantly causes large bowel obstruction.
  • Crohn’s and Other Causes: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are bowel diseases causes structuring that causes a large bowel obstruction. It may also occur due to adhesions, intussusceptions, radiation strictures or fecal impaction.

3. Large Bowel Obstruction 101: Up to Date Information: What Are the Symptoms?

ConstipationHere is a list of the large bowel obstruction symptoms:

  • Abdominal inflation due to holding of feces and flatus.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Cramps in the abdominal area due to colic and distension.
  • Constipation, and in extreme cases, you may not pass any flatus or feces.
  • Peritonism, a condition in which you have symptoms of shock and peritonitis.
  • Diarrhea, if your intestine is partially blocked.

4. A Large Bowel Obstruction Intestine Blockage: Getting the Diagnosis

Your doctor is going to require a list of information from you. They may ask certain questions in order to correctly diagnose your condition. These are:

  • What are the symptoms you have experienced?
  • Where do you mostly feel pain?
  • What problems related to digestion do you have or have had?
  • Is there any surgery or procedure that you had undergone in the abdominal area?

A large bowel obstruction radiology consisting of an X-ray of the abdomen and a number of lab studies may help to detect the problem. These include:


X-raySerum chemistries


CBC, complete blood count

Serum lactate

Stool guaiac test

Prothrombin time

To detect whether the bowel blockage is partial or full, a CT scan of your abdomen may be helpful.

5. A Partial Bowel Obstruction is Different

A bowel obstruction is the result of your small or large intestine getting fully or partially blocked, which causes acute pain that occurs and recurs. The obstruction is partial when the solids won’t pass, but some of your fluids, soft foods and gases may be able to pass through your bowels.

6. Partial Large Bowel Obstruction Symptoms to See Your Doctor About

  • Nausea and Vomiting: You experience a decrease in appetite when foods do not pass efficiently through the intestines. You may feel full even after eating a little or nauseated due to leftover undigested food in the intestines, coupled with gas. Vomiting may be a sign of a damaging obstruction that needs medical attention at the earliest.
  • Constipation and Diarrhea: Chronic constipation and diarrhea can undoubtedly be a result of wrong eating habits, but they are major symptoms of a partial bowel obstruction, too.
  • Abdominal Worries: As a result of obstruction in the bowels, you may experience absolutely painful cramps in the abdomen and may experience bloating and distention too.

A tough abdomen which is not due to strong muscles may also be a symptom. You may experience large quantity of gas filling up your abdomen once you take in food.

7. What Causes a Partial Bowel Obstruction?

belly buttonIt is vital that you know the causes of partial bowel obstruction. Here they are:

  • Hernia: You can locate this from outside the body because it is nothing but a protruding small intestine. Hernias occur due to a weakness in the structure of the abdominal wall’s fibers and muscles.

Initially they appear as lumps near the belly button, between the breastbone and navel, at the front of the upper thigh and close to the groin. If the bulged out portion is trapped or pinched, it can cut off the blood supply and can stop free bowel movement, thus resulting in a partial bowel obstruction.

  • Colorectal Cancer: Cancer in the colon or rectum that is located at the digestive tract’s lower end is another reason for it.
  • Tumors: Cancerous tumors in the smaller intestine can be a reason for bowel obstructions.
  • Adhesions: Adhesions are made up of scars and can generate partial obstruction in the small intestines if they develop into a constricting shape.
  • Other Causes: These include muscle and nerve disorders, abdominal or pelvic, surgeries, certain medications’ side-effects and infections.

8. Bowel Diseases to Note

In the present world, most doctors are still not able to detect the causes for obstructions and may even fail to treat the disorder. Your digestive tract has the pressure to perform a number of complex functions, such as breaking down nutrients and ultimately removing wastes and toxins in the body. Any sort of disturbance in this mechanism can result in inflammatory bowel diseases.

These include:wastes and toxins

  • Partial bowel obstructions
  • Typhoid fever
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Ascariasis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Bowel ischemia
  • Perforation
  • Infarction

9. Pseudo-Obstruction: What Is That?

This is an uncommon disorder with similar symptoms as that of bowel blockage or obstruction; however, when your doctor put your intestines under examination, there’s no blockage found. On the contrary, your symptoms are actually due to muscle, visceral myopathy, nerve or visceral neuropathy problems that have an effect on the fluid, food and air transporting through your intestines.

Though an intestinal pseudo-obstruction can follow at any age, it is more common amidst kids and elder people. Kids can have a chronic version of this problem called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction, or CIP, which is normally prevalent since birth.

Here are the symptoms, causes and treatment options:


Muscle problemsOccasional diarrhea

Vomiting and nausea


Muscle problems

Bacterial infections

Malnutrition or weight loss


Cramps and abdominal pain


  • Medications, including anti-depressants and opiates that affect your body’s nerves and muscles, are some of the reasons for the disorder.
  • Muscle and nerve diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, scleroderma and lupus erythematosus.
  • Various types of infections.
  • Surgery in the abdominal or pelvic regions.


  • Medications to prevent bacterial infections and treat pain.
  • Treating muscle problems concerning the intestines.
  • In severe cases however, the doctor may advise surgery.

10. SBO: All About a Small Bowel Obstruction

A number of pathological processes result in an SBO or small bowel obstruction. SBO is quite a hazardous condition. These obstructions slow down the movement of food within the intestines. Typically, there are two forms of SBOs. They are:

ultrasonographyMechanical: The obstruction blocks the movement of food.

Functional: Though there is no physical blockage, the bowels do not help to pass the food along the digestive tract.

Usually an X-ray of the abdomen is all that you would need to detect a small bowel obstruction. For better diagnosis, you could opt for a CT scan or Computed tomography and ultrasonography.

Causes include:

  • Infections
  • Some medicines, like powerful narcotics, that paralyze the contractions.
  • Disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease or abdominal surgery, that result in muscle or nerve damage.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Volvulus
  • Adhesions
  • Intussusception
  • Hernias
  • Intestinal tumors

11. Symptoms of a Small Bowel Obstruction. Is There an Effective Treatment?

A bowel obstruction demands immediate intervention. Start by watching for the following signs:

acute painConstipation


Stomach distension

Racing heart


Peristalsis that causes acute pain


Treatment options include:

  • To relieve yourself from pain, take analgesics.
  • In order to avoid vomiting, take antiemetic medication.
  • To fight infections, have your doctor prescribe some antibiotics.
  • Surgery may be necessary.
  • You can also undergo a bowel decompression procedure. In this instance, your doctor will insert a tube in the affected area to redress adhesions and to also lessen the pressure.

the best medicine is fast intervention. This is because complications generate extremely fast that may require even more complex surgeries. If you think you are facing similar complications, you must see your doctor.

12. Know the Difference: Large Bowel Obstruction Vs Small Bowel Obstruction

There is a difference between large bowel obstruction and small bowel obstruction. Let’s start with the causes first.

Small bowel obstruction causes include:


NeoplasmsKnow the Difference

Small bowel volvulus

External hernias

Large bowel obstruction causes are:

Diverticular disease

Volvulus, sigmoid

Carcinoma of colon

The symptoms of each are also different. Small bowel obstruction symptoms are as follows:

  • Abdominal pain in the center
  • Minimal distention
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Moderate distention
  • Mild vomiting
  • Colic

Large bowel obstruction symptoms include:

Minimal vomiting

Lower abdominal pain that is usually minimal


Abdominal distension

Treatments can differ too. Small bowel obstruction treatments are as follows:

Treat the causeTreatments

Check for external hernia

Midline incision, to check ileocecal valve

Large bowel obstruction treatments include:

If it is a left sided obstruction, a trans colostomy through the right upper, trans incision is required.

Severe cases may require surgery, such as bowel resection.

13. Bowel Obstructions: Detect It Early for the Best Outcome Possible

Bowel obstructions can make the distressed part of your intestine to disappear. This resultant tissue death can result in perforation of your intestines, shock and severe infection. Nevertheless, the whole condition of the bowel obstruction is dependent on the reason that causes it.

In case of severe complications, either resulting from a surgery, inherent chronic diseases or delayed treatment, large bowel obstructions may cause peritonitis, perforation, sepsis, pneumonia, electrolyte disturbances, dehydration and even death.

14. The New Approach: A Low-Fiber Diet Aids in Better Bowel Movement

If you are suffering from any of the below conditions, you need to follow the low-fiber diet.

  • Bowel inflammation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis

Low-fiber foods are easy to digest and have the ability to make your bowel movements slower. A low-fiber diet would help you to fight bloating, diarrhea and gas.

Foods to Avoid

Whole grainsSome food items make your bowel work harder. Doctors suggest that you should not have them. The foods that you should avoid in low-fiber diet include:

Whole grains

Connective tissues of meats

Nuts and seeds

Beans and legumes

Some raw fruits and vegetables

Skins of vegetables and fruits

Foods to Eat

A low-fiber diet suggested to you consists of everyday things that you eat normally like cooked vegetables, white breads, meat and fruits. This diet will help provide you with the necessary amount of proteins, minerals and salts and fluids.

Doctors recommend consuming less than 10 to 15 grams of fiber every day. You can take multi vitamin supplements for your increased health after consulting the doctor.

Below, we have recommended a handful of products that you may take regularly. Remember that this is not an exhaustive list. It is also possible that some of these foods may upset your stomach. After all, everyone’s body is mechanized in a different way. You can talk to your doctor or dietician for help regarding your problems.

Here is the list of what you may eat:

Grains and Breads: Consume refined white breads, white pasta, crackers and dry cereals. Ensure having less than two grams of fiber with each serving. You should avoid whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, barley, popcorn or oats.

Milk Products: You can have three cups of smooth milk products like cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, pudding, creamy soup, oryou may have a minimum quantity of hard cheese. In case you are lactose intolerant, you may not consume these products. Do not consume milk products with granola, fruit, vegetables and seeds added in them.

Protein Needs: Eat well-cooked meat including bacon poultry and fish, as well as eggs, peanut butter and tofu.

bananasFruits: The fruits that you can eat raw are bananas, cantaloupe, ripe apricots, watermelons, nectarines, papayas, plums and peaches. Avoid every other raw fruit. You may have canned fruit juices or sauces, without pulp, such as applesauce.

Vegetables: if you want to eat them raw, have lettuce, zucchini or cucumbers. You can also have well-cooked or canned vegetables that are seedless. You can make a smoothie or a juice out of seedless vegetables, such as skinless potatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, beets, asparagus, carrots, wax beans, green beans, yellow squash and spinach. It would be best if you do not add any other vegetables.

Do not eat deep-fried or oily vegetables, and avoid consuming tomato ketchup.

Miscellaneous: You must avoid caffeinated products and also desserts containing nuts. You may eat plain cakes, pies and cookies.

Water: Always stay hydrated and drink enough fluids, especially if you are suffering from diarrhea.

Besides all these tips, you can try the Digestive Science products to ensure efficient digestion and maintain proper functioning of your gastrointestinal tract, colon and stomach. When your digestive system is better, you experience:

  • Improved overall energy
  • Healthy weight
  • Better skin condition
  • Clarity of mind
  • Quality sleep
  • General feelings of well-being

15. Intestinal Obstruction: Your Treatment Options

DoctorsThere are a number of large bowel obstruction treatments available. However, in order to feel better sooner, fast intervention and prompt treatment is important. It is a medical emergency, so here is what doctors do:

Doctors treat most of the obstructions at the hospital. Doctor will provide you with medicines and fluids intravenously (IV). They may do this by inserting a tube known as nasogastric (NG tube) through your nose that goes down till your stomach. The tube also helps to remove undigested fluids and gas to help you to get relief from pain and pressure. After this, doctors will advise you not to eat anything.

If the cause of the obstruction in your body is due to a medical condition such as diverticulitis or volvulus, your doctor will treat this condition first. This prevents the reappearance of the blockage.

If your intestine is completely blocked – so much that even your blood supply has stopped in the affected area, surgery is a must. Post-surgery, you may require an ileostomy or a colostomy.

Most blockages may prove to get better on their own; however, some need a little more treatment. This includes using liquids or air or stents, mesh tubes to open up the obstructions.

Medications do not aid in treating the blockage itself, however, they may help to make you feel less nauseated or prevent vomiting. The antibiotics can help to avoid infections, while painkillers can reduce your acute pain in the abdominal areas or relieve you from muscle cramps.

16. Avoiding and Treating Small Bowel Obstructions at Home

This is something we promised to tell you about at the start of the article. Did you know: you can get rid of some small bowel obstructions simply in the comfort of your home? Use them if you are absolutely positive the problem does not require the attention of a medical professional.

We do not ask you to bid farewell to the professional health experts and medical practitioners, but there are a few things you can easily manage at your home to get rid of a bowel obstruction, such as:

ApplesApples: An apple a day will keep intestinal obstructions away. Have an apple everyday with its skin on, as soon as you get up in the morning. This has a lot of fiber to help your bowels move smoothly.

Water Mixed With Honey: Boil the water, add honey and drink it before you sleep. This will help the lining of your gastro intestinal tract or GIT to be more smoothened by the honey.

Consume Lots and Lots of Water: Having a lot of water as a daily habit will help to clear any kind of GIT blocks, whilst maintaining your overall health and aid in proper functioning of your colon. More water will help your blood to circulate more oxygen in every corner of your body, which will resultantly ensure efficient functioning of your GIT.

Consume Orange Juice: Orange juice will help to flush out toxins from your body before you step out of home.

Go on a Liquid Diet for Some Time: Sounds scary, but a liquid diet consisting of nutritious juices, vegetable juices and soups can help to avoid any further bowel blockages.

Mint, Lemon and Ginger: Sounds quite like a refreshing drink and it is definitely one. Try this refreshing drink to get rid of bowel obstructions. It is a tried and tested beverage.

Lemon Tea and Honey: Honey helps to soften your bowels and soothes the intestinal lines to make defecation smoother. This sweet drink will effortlessly help you to get rid of bowel obstructions.

CastorCastor Oil: In order to get pain relief from abdominal area, massage hot castor oil over it.

Excessive Laxative Usage: Using laxatives more than two to three times in a day can lead to obstruction in the bowels or constipation. Sure it is good to cleanse your colon, but nothing in excess is good.

Medical Beverages: A number of cleansing beverages are available in the market now that would help you to get rid of intestinal blockages. You may try them after consulting with your doctor.

As we come to the end of this article, we hope that you have understood everything about the condition called a“large bowel obstruction.” You may have also noted how early identification and intervention is absolutely necessary to treat this condition. Therefore, in case any of you or your loved ones have faced similar signs and symptoms, rush to the doctor as soon as possible. If you happen to have Medicaid or Medicare, doctors now code a large bowel obstruction as ICD 9.

Follow our quick diet tips and have a better approach to life by adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Quit all your bad habits. Be fit, be healthy, and don’t hesitate to seek medical care if you experience any digestive disorders that last longer than they should.


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