Bowels Locking Of

Sources: Papers On Health

Sometimes when one part of the bowels is much more

active than another, it passes into that other, and they become

locked, like a stocking half turned inside out. This causes dreadful

pain, and if not soon relieved is fatal. Purgatives are of no use, and

usually make matters worse. A surgical operation in very skilful hands

will relieve, and must be quickly performed when necessary.

In cases in which the one part of the bowels has not yet gone far into

the other, nothing more is required than a cold cloth gently pressed

over the parts. We have seen relief set in on the fifth or sixth change

of such a cloth, when nothing else was used whatever. When a hot bag,

or bran poultice, has been put on the back, and cold cloths

persistently changed over the bowels, the whole matter has been put to

rights, and natural motion of the bowels has been had within an hour

after the applications have been begun.

There is, however, a stronger measure than merely heating the back and

cooling the front in this way. The patient may be put at once into a

sitting bath or small tub, and a panful of cold water poured or dashed

on to the bowels; they then contract so powerfully, and shorten

themselves so much, that all invagination, as it is called, is made to

cease instantly. We should be disposed to try the mildest method in the

first instance, unless the case is one in which the lock in the bowels

had just taken place. Then it might be well to dash the pailful of

water on so as to put all right at once, and afterwards simply to apply

such remedies as would tend to prevent a recurrence of the evil.

It is, however, usually the case that the distress has lasted some time

before an opportunity of doing anything occurs, inflammation, more or

less, has set in, weeks may have passed, and blundering treatment may

have done great mischief. Then it is safe to use the heat at the back,

and frequently changed cold cloths in front, so as to reduce the

inflammation, and contract the bowels more slowly, so as to remove the

obstruction. When these have been used for some time, if the

obstruction is not removed it will be well to resort to the stronger

measures. Nothing is more beautifully simple than the ordinary action

of the bowels. The healthful movement is like that by which an

earth-worm moves along the ground: so long as the tube is thus moving

its contents onward, by contraction and expansion, no part can pass

inside or outside that which is before it; but when one part loses

nervous tension, and expands without contracting quickly enough, the

part behind it tends to worm itself into it, and a "knot," as it is

sometimes called, is formed. No possible instrument can reach it except

by cutting the body outright, but the action of cold is so powerful in

contracting the tube that the "loop," as it is also called, is drawn

out, and the right state of things is produced. It is important to

remark that there are glands near the lower bowel that swell and form

tumours. The cold applications reduce these very speedily to their

usual size, and if their swelling is an obstruction, it is soon

removed. But it is the lock in the tube itself that is the real malady

of which so many die, and with which so many more narrowly escape.

The trouble is best avoided by attention to the regular action of the

bowels. It arises from great irregularity in that action.