Diseases and Conditions

Intussusception

Symptoms

Children

The first sign of intussusception in an otherwise healthy infant may be sudden, loud crying caused by abdominal pain. Infants who have abdominal pain may pull their knees to their chests when they cry.

The pain of intussusception comes and goes, usually every 15 to 20 minutes at first. These painful episodes last longer and happen more often as time passes.

Other frequent signs and symptoms of intussusception include:

  • Stool mixed with blood and mucus (sometimes referred to as "currant jelly" stool because of its appearance)
  • Vomiting
  • A lump in the abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Not everyone has all of the symptoms. Some infants have no obvious pain, and some children don't pass blood or have a lump in the abdomen. Some older children have pain but no other symptoms.

Adults

Because intussusception is rare in adults and symptoms of the disorder often overlap with the symptoms of other disorders, it's more challenging to identify. The most common symptom is abdominal pain that comes and goes. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. People sometimes have symptoms for weeks before seeking medical attention.

When to see a doctor

Intussusception requires emergency medical care. If you or your child develops the signs or symptoms listed above, seek medical help right away.

In infants, remember that signs of abdominal pain may include recurrent bouts of pulling the knees to the chest and crying.