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Hi! My name is Laura Cox and I am Shield HealthCare's Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist.
Today we're going to be talking about intestinal blockages.
One of the questions I get most is what is an intestinal blockage. An intestinal
blockage, also known as a bowel obstruction, is basically when either the
intestine is twisted, it's swollen or there's food lodged in the intestine
that does not allow output to empty outside of the body.
The symptoms are abdominal pain, stoma swelling, bloating, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.
Because, think about it, it's food that is going through your intestines and is trying to
get through, but cannot. Another symptom of intestinal blockage may be a lack of
intestinal output, so I say sometimes because there are partial intestinal
obstructions and then there are also complete intestinal obstructions.
So complete there is absolutely no intestinal output, whereas a partial
intestinal blockage you may have a little bit of gas, a little bit of stool coming out, but not a lot.
So what do you do if you have an intestinal blockage? So, first and foremost, it's important to
note that if it seems like a severe intestinal blockage you should try to get a hold of your doctor. If you cannot
then go straight to the emergency room and they'll take care of you there.
If it's not-so-severe call your doctor and while you're waiting for them to get
back to you there are a few steps that you can take. One of these steps is
starting to move around - so walking really helps move the digestion process along.
Going and taking a warm bath or putting a heating pad on your abdomen
can sometimes allow the muscles to relax and then the stoma can kind of do its
work or your intestines can do their work. Another thing that you can do is
drink a lot of water this is very, very important because it helps that
food that's impacted - it helps to open up the intestines, push the food through or
unravel those intestines, which really helps clear that blockage.
Some beverages that can be especially helpful to clear blockages are grape
juice, carbonated beverages, and hot tea. Another thing that might be helpful is
trying different positions and moving from position to position. Try lying on
your side. I like to put my forehead on my forearms and my butt up in the air.
One thing that I find works exceptionally well for getting rid of an
intestinal obstruction is gently massaging the area around the stoma and
this just helps to manually move the food through the intestinal tract.
Abdominal massage might also work for people who do not have stomas but what
I find really helpful with my stoma is manually massaging towards my stoma
to try and encourage the food to come out of the stoma.
So for people who have intestinal obstructions that do have a stoma, check to see if the stoma is
swollen. If it is it's very important to take the wafer off and cut a larger hole
in a new wafer and put that on, this way we're not strangulating the stoma.
If you suspect that you have an intestinal blockage and your symptoms
escalate to vomiting, this is the time to go to the emergency room.
Another question I get is what will happen when I get to the ER? So my experience has
been that they admit you into the emergency room, they start an IV for
fluids because being hydrated helps with eliminating blockages. They'll talk to you,
ask you what you ate, what your symptoms are, and they'll probably order
a CT scan or an x-ray. I had a CT scan so that they could see where my blockage actually was.
One thing you can do to prevent intestinal blockages is to avoid
hard to digest foods like uncooked vegetables, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and corn.
When you are eating things that are harder to digest, don't forget to chew well.
Chewing well is the first step in digestion and also it takes some of the
burden off of the intestines. It's really easy to forget to chew very well,
especially when conversation is really great, but it's a
really important step to avoid intestinal blockages. And it's always
helpful to stay hydrated and drink fluids after a meal.
I was pleasantly surprised about recovery after an intestinal blockage, it was very fast and,
sure the intestinal blockage was painful, but once it passed I felt pretty good.
Always follow your doctor's instructions with diet, hydration, exercise, and
follow-up appointments after experiencing a blockage.
Everyone's experiences with intestinal blockages may differ, these were my experiences and
I hope this video was helpful.