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Bowel Obstruction in Children: Care Instructions


A bowel blockage (obstruction) can prevent gas, fluids, or food from moving through the intestines as they should. It can cause constipation. Your child may have pain, nausea, vomiting, and cramping. In rare cases, the blockage can cause diarrhea.

Complete blockages require a stay in the hospital. Your child may need surgery. If your child has had surgery for a bowel blockage, there are things you can do at home to make sure your child heals well.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Have your child rest when your child feels tired.
  • If your child had surgery:
    • They may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor says it is okay. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Do not let your child take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
    • If your child has strips of tape on the cut (incision), leave the tape on until it falls off. Gently wash the area daily with warm, soapy water. Then rinse and pat it dry.
    • Your child may not have much of an appetite after the surgery. When your child feels like eating, start with small amounts of food. Your doctor will tell you about any foods your child should not eat.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child is vomiting.
  • Your child has new or worse belly pain.
  • Your child cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.