A bowel obstruction is the partial or complete blockage of areas of the small intestines, preventing food and digestive liquid from moving through. Referred to as an ileus, a bowel obstruction is caused by either something being in the way or because the intestinal muscles are not functioning properly. While the management of a complete bowel obstruction requires that you not eat, a liquid diet for a partial bowel obstruction may help relieve the obstruction. It is important that you consult your doctor before starting any diet when you have a bowel obstruction, partial or complete.
In addition to helping clear the partial obstruction, following a liquid diet when you have a partial bowel obstruction can help keep you hydrated, while also helping you meet some of your nutritional needs. The type of liquid diet you follow, as well as how long you need to follow the it, is determined by your physician.
Clear Liquid Diet
The clear liquid diet, as the name implies, consists of liquids that are clear. Liquid choices include water; clear juice, such as apple; clear soda, such as ginger ale; ice pops; fruit ice; gelatin; broth; black coffee; and black tea. Honey is also allowed on the clear liquid diet. These types of liquids are very easily digested and leave very little residue in your gastrointestinal tract. While this diet can help you stay hydrated, it is very low in calories and nutrients, and is not meant for long-term use.
Full Liquid Diet
The full liquid diet includes most liquids, along with foods that turn into a liquid at room temperature. Choices include all the liquids allowed on the clear liquid diet, plus milk, milkshakes, ice cream, strained cream soups, pudding, custard, butter, margarine, oil, sugar and nutritional supplements. The full liquid diet is moderately low in calories, but more adequately meets your vitamin, mineral and protein needs than the clear liquid diet. You can follow the full liquid diet for an extended period of time as long as you are closely monitored by your physician and take a multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Any changes in bowel function may indicate a complete bowel obstruction, which may require emergency surgery. If you experience constipation, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain when following your liquid diet for a partial bowel obstruction you should consult your physician immediately.