You were in the hospital because you had a blockage in your bowel (intestine). While in the hospital, you received intravenous (IV) fluids. You also may have had a tube placed through your nose and into your stomach. You may have received antibiotics.
If you did not have surgery, your health care providers slowly began to give you liquids, and then food.
If you needed surgery, you may have had part of your large or small intestine removed. Your surgeon may have been able to sew the healthy ends of your intestines back together. You may also have had ileostomy or a colostomy.
If a tumor or cancer caused the blockage in your intestine, the surgeon may have removed it. Or, it may have been bypassed by routing your intestine around it.
What to Expect at Home
If you had surgery:
The outcome is usually good if the obstruction is treated before tissue damage or tissue death occurs in the bowel. Some people may have more bowel obstruction in the future.
If you did not have surgery:
Your symptoms may be completely gone. Or, you may still have some discomfort, and your stomach may still feel bloated. There is a chance your intestine may become blocked again.
Be sure to follow the diet advice given to you by your provider.
Eat small amounts of food several times a day. DO NOT eat 3 large meals. You should:
- Space out your small meals. Wait the same amount of time between each one.
- Add new foods back into your diet slowly, one or two at a time.
- Take sips of clear liquids throughout the day.
Some foods may cause gas, loose stools, or constipation as you recover. Avoid foods that cause these problems.
If you become sick to your stomach or have diarrhea, avoid solid foods for a while and try drinking only clear fluids.
DO NOT lift anything or do intense exercise for at least 4 to 6 weeks, or until your doctor says it is okay.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Diarrhea that does not go away
- Pain that does not go away or is getting worse
- A swollen or tender belly
- Little or no gas or stools to pass
- Fever or chills
- Blood in your stool
Repair of volvulus - discharge; Reduction of intussusception - discharge; Release of adhesions - discharge; Hernia repair - discharge; Tumor resection - discharge
Turnage RH, Heldmann M., Cole P. Intestinal obstruction. and illeus. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 119.
Update Date 10/27/2014
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.