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Sure Signs Your Colon is "Clogged"

Here's what bowel obstruction feels like.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

A clogged colon, or intestinal obstruction, is a health condition where the contents of intestines are blocked from moving through the intestinal tract. While a lot of cases can be dealt with through non-invasive procedures, sometimes surgery is needed. "If I see that a patient's condition can be treated without surgery, I give them that option," says Nabajit Choudhury, MBBS, MS. "A lot of patients have anxiety about surgery, so if there's a way to address their condition without operating, I discuss that with them. In most of these cases, I'm able to operate laparoscopically, which means there are just small incisions near the site of the obstruction. If there is a tumor or a growth, or the intestine is twisted, we'll likely need a larger incision near the middle of the abdomen." Concerned about bowel obstruction? Here are five signs your colon is clogged, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Feelings of Fullness and Swelling

woman with upset stomach drinking tea

Feeling bloated and swollen could be a symptom of an intestinal obstruction. "A partial blockage usually displays itself through cramping abdominal pain, watery output with a foul odor, and possible abdominal distension and swelling of the stoma followed by nausea and vomiting," says Gwen B. Turnbull, RN, BS, CETN.



Woman Suffering From Nausea

Nausea could be a sign your colon is clogged, doctors say. "You're usually nauseous, you're vomiting, unable to keep anything down," says Erica Loomis, MD. "It's beyond your usual stomach flu, or something like this."


Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps could be a sign of a clogged colon, experts say. "You should notify your doctor or your stoma care nurse if you are unable to relieve the symptoms yourself, if they become severe (pain, vomiting, muscle cramps, dehydration), or if they last for more than 8 hours," Turnbull says


Abdominal Pain

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home

Unexplained abdominal pain could be a sign of bowel obstruction. "You can hear and feel your stomach churning, and are overwhelmed occasionally with abdominal cramps that leave you sweaty and nauseated. As the day goes on, the cramps get worse and by evening, you vomit…. You feel absolutely terrible," says Turnbull.



upset woman in toilet by diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, piles

Inability to have a bowel movement could be a sign of bowel obstruction. "Most people can't have a bowel movement or they can't pass gas, they start to get very bloated," says Dr. Loomis. Sometimes the discomfort becomes so severe, people go to the ER. "It could be a complete obstruction or narrowed," Dr. Loomis adds.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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