In the case of infants and children the most common cause of intestinal blockage is paralytic ileus. This could be caused by decreased blood supply to the abdominal area, actual injury to the abdominal blood supply, complications from intra-abdominal surgery, intra-abdominal infection or kidney or lung disease. With older children, paralytic ileus can be brought on by bacterial, viral or food poisoning.
Mechanical causes, that is something physically being in the way, for intestinal obstruction could be abnormal tissue growth, scar tissue that formed after surgery, foreign bodies that have been ingested, gallstones, hernias, tumours or several other causes.
There are several varying symptoms, other than vomiting, of an intestinal blockage. Abdominal distention is where the abdomen becomes stretched. This is more commonly referred to as being bloated. Related to this there can be a feeling of abdominal fullness, gas, pain and cramping. There may also be complaints of unpleasant breath odour, constipation and diarrhoea.
Mechanical obstruction can be detected through the use of a stethoscope. A doctor will listen to the abdomen and high-pitched bowel sounds can indicate a problem. If the obstruction has been present for a long period of time the sounds may become less apparent and bowel sounds may cease completely. Also a silent bowel can be an early indication of paralytic ileus. Placing a tube through the nose into the stomach or intestine to help alleviate abdominal distention and vomiting can treat a blockage.