Ileus is simply the decreased propulsive ability of or obstruction in the intestine due to bowel motility problems. It is a painful, temporary loss of the normal wavelike contractions in the bowel, called peristalsis,which are designed to propel food through the intestines. The obstruction can be due to non-mechanical factors such as a physical object obstructing part of GI tract, or mechanical factors such as illnesses. The term ileus applies when the cause of obstruction is mechanical. Besides mechanical ileus, another form of the condition is called paralytic ileus. While mechanical ileus occurs when something causes bowel blockage from inside (due to foreign body, tumor, or worm infestation), or when intestinal tube is twisted or strangled, paralytic ileus is mostly the result of intestinal infections (i.e. peritonitis, pancreatitis) where bowel innervation is impaired and thus normal movement seizes. A mechanical ileus is often followed by a paralytic ileus, and both forms may be present at the same time.
Since this condition causes obstruction in intestinal passage, the digested food can not be transported past this blockage and it accumulates in certain parts of the intestine. Thus, ileus is not a primary disease, rather a symptom of some other underlying condition that causes intestinal motility problems.
Common symptoms associated with this condition include
Loss of appetite (anorexia)
Mild abdominal distention or discomfort due to gas accumulation due to obstruction