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Obstructions: Causes & Prevention

Obstructions: Causes & Prevention

on Oct 18, 2015

Cancer patients may experience obstructions and blockages prior to, and/or following surgery. Obstructions may affect patients experiencing gastrointestinal disorders/diseases for a variety of reasons; among them: tumors, adhesions, and inappropriate dietary choices. Due to the challenges caused by obstructions, patients should consult with their own physician specialist and/or a registered dietitian to review their specific needs. Here is a list of general guidelines.

Symptoms of obstructions:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and/or lack of appetite
  • Vomiting, including projectile vomiting
  • Bloating, with a hard belly
  • Inability to have a bowel movement

Who is prone to obstructions?

  • Patients who are still in the first few weeks of recovery after a bowel resection
  • Ostomates
  • Patients affected by scar tissue (adhesions), and/or tumors
  • Patients who are bedridden and/or who require certain medications

Physical contributors to obstructions:

  • Diet
  • Aging
  • Tumors
  • Scar tissue (adhesions)
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Medication, especially narcotics prescribed for pain, and some chemotherapies

Dietary contributors to obstructions: Those prone to obstructions should approach fiber dense foods with caution, or avoid altogether:

  • Nuts and snacks, such as popcorn, granola bars, etc,
  • Fibrous fruits or fruits with skins and/or seeds, i.e. grapes, raisins, citrus membranes, pineapple, etc.,
  • Fibrous vegetables, raw or undercooked vegetables, i.e. artichokes, beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, lettuces, peas, etc.
  • Other foods that may move more slowly through the digestive system including some meat products: beef, poultry, etc.

To avoid obstructions caused by diet:

  • Chew foods thoroughly
  • Use a commercial stool softener*
  • Drink adequate amounts of water, six to eight 8 ounce glasses per day
  • Add a fiber supplement to your diet*
  • Increase physical exercise*

*Consult with your physician specialist and/or a registered dietitian to review your specific needs.