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Intussusception – Symptoms and causes

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Know the basics

What is intussusception?

Intussusception an intestine disease that affects your intestine. When you have intussusception, your intestine slides into the next part of itself like a telescope. It is a serious condition that need immediate medical attention. When this happens, food doesn’t pass the intestine properly. Furthermore, the blood flow to the area is blocked and can lead to the death of these tissues.

How common is intussusception?

Intussusception most often occurs in babies and children between the ages of 3 months and 6 years. It’s two to three times more common in boys than girls. Adults rarely have intussusception. However, adults might have intussusception if they have other stomach conditions such as tumor. Intussusception can be managed by reducing the risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of intussusception?

In the beginning, symptoms of intussusception are frequent stomach cramps. Your child might complaint about stomach pain that comes and goes. Later in the condition, your child will start to vomit often and become pale and sweaty.

Your child will feel weak and tired all the time. Their stomach might look swollen. Other signs and symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. You might find blood or mucus in their stools if the condition get more severe.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Intussusception is an emergency. Call your health care provider immediately if you see symptoms. Then call 911 or take your child to the emergency room. Untreated intussusception is almost always fatal for babies and young children.

Know the causes

What causes intussusception?

Unfortunately, there are no known cause of this condition. It sometimes occurs after an infection of the intestines. In rare cases, tumor inside the intestine can make the intestine loop into itself.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for intussusception?

There are many risk factors for intussusception, such as:

  • Children are much more likely to develop intussusception than adults are. It’s the most common cause of bowel obstruction in children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years.
  • Intussusception more often affects boys.
  • Abnormal intestinal formation at birth.Children born with abnormal stomach formation in which the intestine doesn’t develop correctly (malrotation) also is a risk factor for intussusception.
  • A prior history of intussusception.Once you’ve had intussusception, you’re at increased risk to develop it again.
  • There is some evidence of an increased incidence of intussusception in people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is intussusception diagnosed?

The first step of diagnosis is often asking about your child’s medical history and physical examination. Imaging tests are used to confirm if there I any problem in your child’s intestine. Your wild will be given barium to drink.

This liquid will make the intestine show up clearer on the x-ray.  The barium helps in diagnosis and sometimes can force the intestine to straighten. It can therefore also act as a treatment.

How is intussusception treated?

During diagnosis, a liquid containing a substance called barium is given. In some cases, the barium can straighten the child’s intestine. If the barium enema doesn’t straighten the intestine and clear the blockage, surgery is needed.  Surgery is sometimes the first treatment option if the child seems very ill, has a fever, or lost blood, or if symptoms have been going on for more than a few hours.

For children who have surgery, they will be given antibiotics and nutrient fluids through their veins. Additional treatment may also include using a tube put through the nose and into the stomach (nasogastric tube) to help decrease pressure in the intestines.

Untreated intussusception can lead to necrosis (death of tissue) and widespread infection (sepsis), which can be life-threatening. Sometimes intussusception is very mild and the problem is temporary and gets better on its own. As children get older the risk of recurrence decreases. Most recurrences take place within the first 24 hours after the condition is treated.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage intussusception?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with intussusception:

  • Follow doctor’s order, description and appointments.
  • Don’t use home remedies, such as laxatives, to treat intussusception. These can be dangerous.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

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