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Bowel Obstruction: Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations

Small bowel obstruction is a potentially life-threatening condition. Even in relatively less serious cases, bowel obstruction can completely disrupt your daily life. Obstructions are caused by adhesions or internal scars that form in the small intestines (small bowel) and sometimes in the large intestines (colon). Adhesions form as the first step in healing from surgery, infection, inflammation, or trauma. Adhesions are a primary cause of obstruction, or blockage, in the bowel. Regardless of where they form, adhesions join structures with strong glue-like bonds that prevent them from functioning properly.

The good news is that certain diet changes can serve as an important adjunct to your treatment and help you manage the symptoms of digestive disorders like bowel obstruction, which range from uncomfortable to debilitating.

For a complete overview of these diet recommendations, recipes, and sample menus, download our Bowel Obstruction Diet Guide. Take a peek inside the Digestive Health Guide’s Table of Contents.

Reducing the amount of fiber in your diet can cause fewer bowel movements and smaller stools. This can reduce gas, abdominal cramps, and pain. As a result, Low or Minimal Fiber Diets are typically recommended for patients with digestive issues.

If your symptoms are mild, a Low-Fiber Diet may be appropriate for you. With severe symptoms, you may need to follow a stricter Minimal Fiber Diet or a Liquid Diet. The length of time that you should follow any of these diet options will depend on your individual condition and symptoms.

It is important that your doctor is aware of any dietary changes you make. Please notify your doctor immediately if you experience changes in bowel movements, such as:

  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • pain

Remember, digestive disorders affect each person differently. Therefore, finding out which foods your body reacts well to – and doesn’t – may be a process of trial and error. Be patient and you will find the ideal balance of foods that can help you manage your condition.

Watch Dr. Oz explain adhesions:

You may wish to take a look at the clip in which Dr. Oz covers the dangerous condition. In the short video, he takes a visual look at what happens in one’s intestines when an obstruction occurs.

*Please consult your physician prior to making any diet changes.

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