Symptoms of a perforated bowel

A perforated bowel, otherwise known as gastrointestinal perforation, is a gap that forms within the wall of the large intestine. This allows contents of the colon to escape into the abdomen, leading to infection and internal bleeding. A perforated bowl should be treated immediately, so knowing the symptoms is important.


Pain is the most common symptom of a perforated bowel. This pain usually is a severe ache in the abdomen that isn't helped by medication. However, if the gap is relatively small, the pain is often dull.


Another common symptom of a perforated bowel is abdominal distension, which is an abnormal and persistent swelling of the stomach. The distension may include the feeling of fullness.


A perforated bowel can cause a fever of 38.9 degrees C or higher. The fever is usually accompanied by chills, even as body temperature rises.


Nausea often accompanies the pain, abdominal distension and fever. This nausea is seemingly unexplained and often is so severe that it causes vomiting.

Bowel Changes

It's also common for a person with a perforated bowel to experience changes in his bowel movements. For some, it is intermittent episodes of constipation or diarrhoea. For others, they detect actual blood in their stool or dark, tarry stool.


The only effective method of treatment is surgery. The portion of the large intestine containing the perforation is removed.

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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.