My colon stopped working (paralytic ileus)

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New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/29/2013 4:51 PM (GMT -6)   
A few months ago I was turning in bed and felt a searing pain in my LUQ. The pain felt sharp like a knife stabbing into my LUQ, I’ve never had any type of pain like this before. It caused me to jump out of bed and my entire body was sweating. I walked around for a few minutes and waited for the pain to subside and got back into bed. I can no longer lie on my left side due to the pain.
Before the event, I would have a bowel movement like clockwork every morning. Each week after the event, I noticed my bowel output became less and less. As the problem became worse, I noticed LUQ and RUQ pain increased if I strained. A month later, I stopped having bowel movements. After a week without a bowel movement, I took laxatives for the first time in my life as I was at wits end from continual bloating. By taking various laxatives I am able to have some partial evacuations; however, I have never been able to completely empty my bowel as in the past.
Lab work: I’ve had multiple blood tests, the doctors tell me everything is normal. On the round of blood tests, my Alpha-1-Antitrypsin was low at 68mg/dL with the normal range being 90-200. The doctors stated that this was nothing to worry about and that it was only an issue if it was very high. My IgA was on the low-end at 82mg/dL (normal 90-400) but the doctors were not concerned. I had also had a full celiac panel done and it all came back normal.
Scans: I have had a KUB x-ray, a CAT scan without contrast and fluoroscopy with barium swallow. All of these tests came back normal with the exception that in each scan there was a lot of stool noted in the colon, one doctor reviewed the CT and could not believe the amount of stool in the colon but offered no idea as to what is causing the problem.
Suggestion: My primary suggested I go to a major clinic such as Mayoclinic, Cleveland Clinic, I have booked such an appointment but it is months away and I am suffering from this every day. I have visited other doctors, including internists and gastroenterologists but they are not sure what is causing the problem. They all listened to the bowels with a stethoscope and they stated the bowels were normal.

I have looked into several possibilities as to what may be causing this problem:
1) adhesions – possible but typically can only be diagnosed with an exploratory laparoscopy, which can cause more adhesions
2) diaphragmatic hernia – would of showed up with the fluoroscopy with barium swallow and this is typically congenital
3) fecal impaction – the doctors stated the bowel sounds were normal upon auscultation
4) h. pylori – blood tests came back negative
5) partial bowel obstruction – I have not had the common symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
6) protein losing enteropathy - previous urine tests were normal

It is awful having to live like this and I am desperately seeking help to find what is causing this problem.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 4147
   Posted 4/29/2013 10:15 PM (GMT -6)   
Yikes, I have no clue. But as one who is on their 3rd stenosed (seriously narrowed stoma) in one year, and living on liquids, I can sympathize. I jumped over from the ostomy strand, but wanted to lend some support. Had you had any prior surgery that the adhesions could be from if they are adhesions? Just a thought. Good luck. Rosemary

Bacon Girl
Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 5490
   Posted 4/29/2013 10:22 PM (GMT -6)   
I had paralytic ileus from c diff and i know how it feels. It was just a constant pain and i couldnt get comfortable. I was beyond bloated even though i had hardly been eating. I didnt think anything else could cause it though.
Joanna 23
Current: 2-4 bms/day- very anemic/low hemoglobin
Supps: vit C/D, CLO, astaxanthin, b12 shots, colostrum, dig. enz, l-glut, serrapeptase, culturelle, prescript assist, sacro b., scdophilus, molasses, liver
Diet: SCD/paleo
Tried: canasa, rowasa, entocort, pred, 6mp, remicade, humira, lialda, welchol, bentyl, LDN, cipro, flagyl, VSL, Vit E, 8 FT, clay, aloe, slip. elm, vanco for c diff

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4476
   Posted 5/6/2013 9:43 PM (GMT -6)   
you didn't list a colonoscopy. Have you had one?
54 yr. old female, diagnosed with Crohn's in terminal ileum Sept-Oct. 2007. Also have GERD and IBS, gastroparesis (Dx. with c.difficile 1/12- now resolved)

MEDS: Pentasa- 6 500mg pills per day, Dexilant, Metamucil, colace, miralax as needed, Culturelle probiotics .25 xanax for sleep prn

New Member

Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 5/8/2013 1:03 AM (GMT -6)   
Dear A,

I'm sorry to hear you are suffering. Maybe I can shed some light while you wait for your appointment. The colon motility, or the ability to move stool out of the body is controlled by the specialized gut nervous system called the ENS, or 'brain in the gut.' This 'brain in the gut' talks to your big brain and your immune system and nervous systems through pathways called by scientists the 'brain-gut-immune' axis.

What does all this have to do with your symptoms?? Chronic low grade stress can cause physiological, meaning actual physical changes in these pathways, causing the colon to 'stop working' become sluggish and your specialized digestive smooth muscles to stop working.

So, the most important thing to do to get relief until you see the docs at the Mayo clinic is to start with a regular mindbody practice, each day, for 15 minutes to start 'rewiring' these connections that stress has damaged.

If you do this, you'll see a big difference!:)

Post Edited By Moderator (Michelejc) : 5/18/2013 6:39:17 AM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 373
   Posted 5/8/2013 7:12 PM (GMT -6)   
It sounds like almost exactly what my mother had happen.
I can not recall what they call (but can find out for you) it but basically the rectum has prolapsed causing her to have issues with evacuating stool.
She uses Enemas, laxatives, anything to get the stool to pass through.
Make sure you have a colostomy and I also suggest keeping a journal before your appointment of when, how much, level if pain on a scale of 1-10 and whatever else information the dr may want..
There is also a test (which I have had at Mayo) where they can test your muscle strength in the rectum.
Crohns dx,Pelvic Floor Tension,Pelvic Adhesive dx,interstitial cystitis,ileostomy,chronic pain,arthritis,fibromyalgia,severe 42 degree scoliosis,degenerative disc dx,neurological impingement,pelvic tilt and complete loss of neck curve. 4th degree tear during childbirth with 13 reconstructive surgeries (including fistulas) resulting in chronic pelvic pain and an ileostomy. Bp and panic attacks.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 2132
   Posted 5/18/2013 7:22 AM (GMT -6)   

Rule number 8:

8. If you are a medical professional, do not use the forums to distribute professional medical advice and/or promote your services.

Please remove your signature. Thank you.
54, female - diagnosed with ulcerated proctitis/mild colitis
Canasa - once a day
Lialda - once a day
VSL#3 DS - 1/2 pack a day
Zocor - 40 mg
Boniva - once a month
Calcium with Vitamin D
Herbs -
Valerian - when needed for sleep
St. John's Wort, Black Cohosh, ginger

"Fly under the radar" - Dad

New Member

Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/19/2014 5:45 PM (GMT -6)   

I was amazed to read your post alveolar21 as your experience mimics mine to a T. As background I am a 55 year-old man in otherwise excellent health. I've experienced no recent stress aside from the normal stresses of everyday life and can think of no reason for the onset of this ileus.


My latest flare-up began several weeks ago and started with a moderate amount of heartburn & acid reflux which I seldom experience. Then one night about a week later I woke up with a severe cramping pain or colic that lasted about 30 minutes or so. From then on there was a decreasing amount of stool with each bowel movement along with greater intervals between defecating until I finally had no movement or urge for the past three days. I also noticed mucus with the stool and have a vague epigastric pressure or discomfort that seems to be the hallmark of this condition.


Prior to this episode I suffered a similar paralytic ileus about 7 years ago which again came on quite suddenly and out of the blue with no prodromal symptoms. Colonoscopy and lab tests all proved normal. I consulted with several internal medicine specialists and gastroenterologists and none could offer a definitive diagnosis, etiology or treatment aside from Miralax, mineral oil & hydration. Trials with Amitiza proved ineffective so I have little hope for Linzess being effective as it has a similar pharmacology. We also tried an SSRI which too was ineffective. Essentially I relied on Miralax, lactulose, and tap water enemas to achieve some semblance of a bowel movement. Needless to say my quality of life diminished considerably. This continued for a grueling four months until eventually GI motility slowly returned to normal. I had not suffered another episode for 7 years until this recent recurrence.


There is so much we do not know about the enteric nervous system and it’s control and regulation of GI motility; not to mention the interaction between the gut brain, CNS and immune systems. Sadly this appears to be a “functional” disorder with no overt GI pathology on a macroscopic level but rather subtle imbalances in neurotransmitter or immunomodulators that may prove responsible. At present medical science can only offer palliative treatment while nature takes its course in restoring equilibrium. It is so very frustrating when one is denied this most basic of bodily functions without rhyme or reason as to why!

Nanny bow bow
New Member

Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 6/22/2014 3:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi I have similar problem. I started going every day about 12 months ago but then had constipation heartburn and a couple of episodes of watery diarrhoea. In 33 days I only went three times two of those using laxatives. When I got to ten days again. I went to the docs and my rectum was empty but hard stools felt higher up. I had ct after taking picolax to empty me so not sure if I believe the negative result for obstruction. Prucalopride worked for some weeks but then slowed and stopped. Linaclotide worked a bit at least letting me get gas out. But had to take dulcolax last night. Completely cleared me down to the liquid but feeling bloated and full of gas which won't come out. I want it to go away. My consultant says ibs c but why won't my bowel move to let the gas out. Not many bowel sounds either. Can anyone relate to yhis.

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/8/2016 10:37 AM (GMT -6)   
Get endoscopy's. Also what about an MRI, there is one for the abdomen, you have to swallow oral contrast and they also put stuff into vains I believe as well, but it can see a lot more than some of other scans. I read that this could be caused by infection, bacterial or viral, or physical obstruction either by a tumor or by hernia, or twisting or something like that of intestines. Also, it can be caused by physical trauma to your spine, or problems with nerves and muscles, or a side effect of medications. Something can trigger your stomach to stop working. The something, is the underlying reason. Would be good if someone could find that and treat that. However if that trigger has passed or is no longer at play, then it sounds like it hopefully will eventually heal on its own. In the meantime baby your digestion and use anything that works...lots of water, daily walking, lots of sleep as very basic. Fruits and cooked veggies, some protein in the morning (I heard protein "triggers" hormones that tells your bowels to move (from a neurologist). What helped although every one says don't take this for more than a week or two at a time is stool softener, double up on miralax. Also consciously relaxing the abdomen internally. Heating pad, hot chocolate/warm soothing drink, carefully slowly work to strengthen your core muscles (careful when things are bad) and all your muscles. Don't leave the house early in morning give yourself time to be home and relaxed rather than running around where your bowel gets the wrong message to retain rather than empty. There are some tests for motility issues only specialize centers do them, and some retrain the muscles using biofeedback if certain muscles are found to be weak or under responsive.

Post Edited (healing) : 1/8/2016 8:42:17 AM (GMT-7)

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/24/2016 10:40 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm so happy to find this forum. I think I'm losing my mind. Essentially I haven't had more than 2-3 tbs of stool at a time for 3 months, and that is produced only with a significant amount of laxative. I went to the ER on Dec 1, Dr. gave me a CT scan and told me it was Ileus and put me on Lactulose and Mag Citrate. Some stuff came out but not a lot. Had to follow up with PCP who said it was just air. Asked to see a gastro who said it was "just constipation" and put me on 4-5 capfuls Miralax/day for a month. Nothing happened. He did another CT and said nothing showed to "warrant these symptoms." Was supposed to have a colonoscopy after that but I got so bloated from the prep, with so much pain, I couldn't finish. Again, nothing came out but water and "silt." Went to the ER again because of the pain and bloating so bad I thought I'd burst. That Dr. took an X-ray and said there was a significant amount of stool and to go back to the Miralax. Got a new Gastro who did a colonoscopy (mind you, nothing passed during the prep again, but water & silt). Regarding my non-working bowels & bloat, he kept saying it must be "air" but wants to schedule me for a "esophagoscopy" which I didn't notice on the papers until I got home, so I have no idea as to why. On the rare occasion that I do produce a tiny bit, and I can see what's in it, it's always something I've eaten in the last 12 hours -- to me that means it's passing right by the mass that's in there. Also, to add to things, he found 3 polyps in the colon, one of them large (3 cm) on which he's doing a biopsy. Lucky me :<(, I stayed awake during the procedure, and he showed me there was nothing blocking between the large and small intestine.

I know this is crazy rambling, but I'm scared to death and feel/look like I'm at full-term pregnancy with twins. It's hurts all the time -- feels like it's stretching and pulling. BTW, I'm a 68 yr old female, with a history of BM problems, ranging from constipation to blow-out diarrhea. When I was a kid I'd have to sit on the toilet seat backwards with my knees up to get anything out. A dr somewhere along the way told me my tail-bone was blocking things because I was sway-backed. Interestingly, before those times now when a bit is trying to come out, I have tailbone pain too.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/6/2016 11:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Wow- after enduring this same thing for 3 years now, and surfing the Web for answers or others presenting with the same, I find this blog. Thank you God!
...Just knowing I'm not alone in this torment is consoling.
Three years ago I noticed I wasn't peeing normally - (stream became a dribble), and constipation was making its debut simultaneously.
I have been keeping the VA busy- even with UCLA specialists, and I'm not improving.
I'm a 53 year old male, who prior to this ordeal was in excellent physical health, running 2 miles a day/4 days a week, plus bike riding occasionally, hiking, exercising...
about 3 1/2 years ago, I got badly I'll from eating street food in Nicaragua, (my wife's home country), and about 2 months later is when these symptoms began.
The VA has done just about every test imaginable, and everything comes up negative. The only certainty they know is that the bladder stopped working, the sphincters- both urethra and anal, are not working properly, and intestinal motility has slowed down to a snails pace. I am presently attending a mindfulness program.
I'm quite concerned as I can't seem to get a diagnosis, nor relief. It's hell living life wondering if tomorrow morning I'll be able to go or not- which seems to be hit and miss. My diet is quite bland, and still I have to take laxatives and stool softener with crossed fingers. The worst part is the pain that comes an hour after eating- the urge to go, but not able to.
This is a horrible disease, and will sap you of energy and most qualities of life.

Post Edited (Toby) : 4/4/2016 7:12:10 PM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/7/2016 10:31 AM (GMT -6)   
I suffered from colonic inertia my entire life. I am now 68 years old. After years of being told eat more fiber drink more liquids, I have IBS on and on and on. Finally found a gastro doctor that knew his stuff. Sent me to Cleveland Clinic had a test called a smart pill, not to be confused with PillCam. This test confirmed his diagnosis colonic inertia. After a lifetime of using every laxative on the market finally developed allergic reactions to all of them. I was down to the last one I could take and was developing reactions to that. During this time I also developed diverticulitis. To make an extremely long story short Cleveland Clinic wanted to perform surgery and have a permanent colostomy bag. I could not live like that. After doing some research I accidentally came up on the site for the Bcir. Had the surgery in April in 2015. I have gotten my life back. I know not anyone procedure is perfect for everyone, I wish I had known about this procedure 25 years ago my life would have been totally different. I have no activity restrictions, the only food restrictions I have are peeling and corn so far. I intubate 2 - 4 times in a 24 hour period, no leakage problems from the stoma. I wear piece of gauze with tape or band aid over the stoma I don't understand why more doctors don't learn this procedure. You will hear good and bad about any surgery, but for me Bcir is the best thing that ever happened to me. The lady that was almost 18 years younger than me was in the hospital the same time I was for the same condition. We had the Bcir procedure done 2 days apart and we keep in touch. She has the same reaction I did why wasn't this done years ago!

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/23/2016 5:19 PM (GMT -6)   
This is a very informative and pretty positive considering the subject Thread. I really appreciate this. I have spent most of the day reading on this subject and have read a couple of Threads and although I still have a bowel that I have no specific cure from. My spirits are lifted. I started out in tears, hoping to find something to help me and indeed I have, not a cure but help and hope and maybe courage.
I don't know if I will find this Thread again as I am new at this and have trouble getting back to the right ones, but know this is not work done in vain. You are helping and hope I will be able to help you.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/22/2016 10:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone,
I am 16 year old male suffering from a very similar problem for the past 5 months. If alveolar21 reads this or anyone else has this problem, do you think you could contact me at *Please put your email address in your profile. This protects you against spammers* so I can talk to you about some things that you do that help or maybe even better if you solved your issue could you help me out! Thanks again and I just hope I can ansewr my problem!

Post Edited By Moderator (Red_34) : 11/23/2016 7:20:10 AM (GMT-7)

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/16/2017 1:01 PM (GMT -6)   
i started doing this same thing been going though it for a year now i have to have my colon removed because the Dr wouldnt listen to me and YES all my test results came back normal too Nothing med wise helped me I MEAN NOTHING
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