For infants and children with intussusception, symptoms may include such things as include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and blood or mucus in the bowel movements. In adults, intussusception symptoms may include changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and a sense of urgency concerning bowel movements.
Intussusception is a rare blockage or twisting of the intestines, which can be life threatening. In intussusception, one portion of the intestine telescopes into a nearby portion, causing the intestinal obstruction. The most common site is where the small intestine joins the large intestine. As the two walls of the intestines press against each other, inflammation, swelling, and eventually, decreased blood flow are the result.
If intussusception is not detected early, internal bleeding, a hole in the intestines, and infection in the abdomen may occur because the intestinal tissue has died from the decreased blood flow.
For infants and children with intussusception, symptoms may include:
- Intermittent abdominal pain
- Bowel movements that are mixed with blood and mucus
- Abdominal distention or a lump in the abdomen
- Vomiting bile
- Shock (low blood pressure and increased heart rate requiring immediate attention).
Some infants will go through periods of crying in pain alternating with periods of exhausted sleep.
In adults, intussusception symptoms can last a long time (chronic symptoms) or they can come and go (intermittent symptoms). The symptoms experienced will depend on the location of the intussusception. Intussusception symptoms in adults may include:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Urgency (needing to have a bowel movement immediately)
- Pain in a specific area of the abdomen
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic or intermittent crampy abdominal pain
- Abdominal distention
- Nausea and vomiting.