When you have been experiencing nausea, abdominal pain, and even bloating for extended periods of time, you may find yourself wondering what is wrong with your body and gastrointestinal system. While you wait for your doctor's appointment, you may want to prepare yourself for the possibility that you have an issue known as a small bowel obstruction. Small bowel obstructions are blockages in your intestines that can cause a backup in your gastrointestinal system. Get to know more about this health condition and how it can be diagnosed and treated so you can prepare yourself for your appointment and potential diagnosis (from a professional such as one from Kinston Medical Specialists PA). 

What Causes A Small Bowel Obstruction?

Small bowel obstructions can be caused by a number of factors. Two of the most common causes of an obstruction in the small bowel are intestinal adhesions and colon cancer. An adhesion in the intestines is a type of hardened fibrous tissue that often form after a person has had some type of abdominal surgery.

In younger people, particularly children, hernias, Crohn's disease, impacted feces, and a variety of other issues can cause a small bowel obstruction. While there may be other reasons that a person develops a small bowel obstruction such as from eating or swallowing something that cannot be processed by the gastrointestinal system, this is not as common as the aforementioned causes.

How Is a Small Bowel Obstruction Diagnosed?

When your doctor suspects that you have an intestinal blockage, they will first perform a manual examination of your abdomen. Then, your physician will likely order a CT scan. Ct scans are a form of x-rays scans taken at several different angles in rapid succession to create cross-sectional images. 

The CT scan will help your physician to determine if there is an obstruction as well as its exact location and size. All of this information can help them determine the course of action they will want to take to resolve the problem.

How Are Small Bowel Obstructions Treated?

The first step in treating a small bowel obstruction is to ensure that you are stable. If you have a full bowel obstruction, then you will not have been able to process any food or water through the body and may be dehydrated and malnourished. And even a partial blockage can cause problems with your nutrition and overall health.

IV fluids, as well as tubes to drain trapped urine in your bladder and remove fluid from your stomach can help to relieve some discomfort. If your blockage is partial, your doctor will likely have you switch to a specialized diet and continue to monitor your condition until the blockage passes. Partial obstructions may clear on their own.

However, if the partial blockage does not clear on its own or you have a full obstruction, then you will likely need surgery to remove it. The obstruction will be removed along with any of your intestine that has been damaged or has died (become necrotic) because of the lack of nutrients and oxygen due to the blockage. Your surgeon will then reattach your small intestines, minus the damaged tissue and you will be ready to heal and resume eating and drinking normally.

Now that you know more about small bowel obstructions and how they can be dealt with, you can prepare yourself for your upcoming doctor's appointment and potential diagnosis.