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Paralytic Illeus is a temporary paralysis of the intestines. The condition is characterized by abdominal cramps and pain, bloating, vomiting and constipation. Paralytic Illeus is more than just constipation – it is an inability to pass any stools or gas at all. Because there is no peristalses (wave-like movement) in the intestines, there is also no bowel sounds.
There are multiple causes of Paralytic Illeus such as electrolyte imbalance (mainly hypokalemia), food poisoning, kidney disease, spinal cord injury and certain types of medication (mainly narcotics). Decreased blood flow to the intestines as with Intussusception, can also lead to Paralytic Illeus. One of the major causes of Paralytic Illeus in children is inflammation inside the abdomen, such as gastroenteritis or appendicitis.
If the intestines were handled a lot during surgery they can become paralyzed. Normally food is withheld from a child until the intestines become active again.
Cystic Fibrosis can also contribute to the condition. In some children Cystic Fibrosis is diagnosed shortly after birth due to Meconium Illeus – a condition where the first stools (meconium) is so sticky that it causes an obstruction. Often a child has to undergo surgery to clear out the obstruction.