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Can Your Gallbladder Cause Heartburn

Common Bile Duct Stones

Acid Reflux Caused by Gallbladder Stones: A Misconception

When gallstones occur in the common bile duct, its known as choledocholithiasis. Bile is ejected from the gallbladder, passed through small tubes, and deposited in the common bile duct. It then enters the small intestine.

In most cases, common bile duct stones are actually gallstones that developed in the gallbladder and then passed into the bile duct. This type of stone is called a secondary common bile duct stone, or secondary stone.

Sometimes stones form in the common bile duct itself. These stones are called primary common bile duct stones, or primary stones. This rare type of stone is more likely to cause an infection than a secondary stone.

Gallbladder Symptoms Vs Acid Reflux

Up to 40 percent of adults experience upper abdominal pain at one time or another, and many of them seek medical attention — and in many cases, an underlying cause of their discomfort is not readily identified. Upper abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of disorders, including acid reflux and gallbladder disease, and even physicians may have difficulty distinguishing among these conditions. However, the location and nature of your pain and the timing of your symptoms may help clarify your diagnosis.

What To Expect From Your Doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may give you time to go over points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms come and go or stay about the same?
  • If your symptoms include pain, where is your pain located?
  • Have your signs and symptoms included vomiting?
  • Does anything seem to trigger your symptoms, including certain foods or beverages?
  • Have you lost weight without trying?
  • Have you seen a doctor for these symptoms before?
  • What treatments have you tried so far? Has anything helped?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • Have you had stomach surgery or had your gallbladder removed?
  • What medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements?
  • What is your typical daily diet?
  • Do you drink alcohol? How much?
  • Do you smoke?

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Fullness After Eating/early Satiety

Being unable to complete your meal or feeling full after eating are unusual symptoms of gall stone disease. Most of us attribute early satiety and fullness to indigestion or functional dyspepsia. However, the two symptoms can be a presentation of gallbladder disease, especially if you have risk factors for gallstones such as:

  • obesity.
  • Positive family history of gallstones.
  • The risk increases with age.

Asymptomatic gallstones are common. Asymptomatic gallstones are found in :

  • 5% of females aged 20-29 years.
  • 9% of females aged 30-39 years.
  • 11% of females aged 40 years or more.
  • Gallstones are rare in males aged less than 40 years. But its risk increases with age.

Early satiety and a sense of fullness can be unusual symptoms of silent gallstones.

You Have Nausea Vomiting Or Heartburn

These two gallbladder attack symptoms are less common and are also linked to many other health issues. In fact, people experiencing gallbladder attack symptoms might mistake them for heartburn or acid reflux. Although nausea and vomiting might not be the best single indicators of a gallbladder attack, people with these symptoms paired with others from this list should speak with their doctorespecially if you have repeat episodes. Patients may feel overwhelming nausea, and vomiting especially after really fat heavy meals, Dr. Sonpal says. This womans heartburn turned out to be cancer.

Read Also: Why Am I Waking Up With Heartburn

Acid Reflux Bile Reflux And Gallbladder Surgery


I had my gallbladder removed a few years ago and am having a recurrence of bile reflux symptoms. Im normal weight, dont smoke, eat healthy and sleep elevated. PPIs have no benefit. Is Ursodiol an appropriate medication to try? How often and how much? Thank you!

Dear Kelly,

Gallbladder disease and acid reflux or GERD are two common but different medical problems. 30% of the population in Houston have gallstones and 30% suffer from heartburn. Not all patients with gallstones need to have their gallbladder removed. Similarly, not all patients with heartburn qualify for acid reflux disease. Gallbladder surgery or laparoscopic cholecystectomy is indicated for acute or chronic cholecystitis as well biliary dyskinesia. Acid reflux surgery in the form of Nissen fundoplication with hiatal hernia repair is offered to patients with documented GERD. The diagnosis and staging of GERD are made using a number of tests mainly upper endoscopy and ambulatory esophageal pH testing. Bile reflux typically co-exist with acid reflux. Nissen fundoplication re-establishes the anti-reflux barrier and stop any form of reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors, PPIs, mask symptoms of acid reflux but do not cure GERD.

Ursodiol, a naturally occurring bile acid, prevents the formation of cholesterol gallstones. Ursodiol does not stop or decrease bile reflux.

Healthy Regards,

What Can I Do To Prevent Indigestion

There are many things you can do to try to prevent indigestion.

Making changes in your diet and eating habits can help. These include:

  • Eating several small, low-fat meals each day instead of 3 large meals
  • Eating slowly and giving yourself enough time for meals
  • Limiting spicy, fatty, greasy, or high-fiber foods
  • Chewing your food well
  • Limiting or not having any coffee, soda, or alcohol

Avoid medicines that hurt your stomach. These include aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines . If you do take them, do so after you eat.

Other lifestyle changes that may keep indigestion from happening include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Finding ways to lower your emotional and physical stress, such as meditation or yoga
  • Exercising before a meal or waiting at least 1 hour after eating

Read Also: Ways To Relieve Heartburn Naturally

Pain Relievers Dont Help

If either biliary or chronic pain doesn’t improve with an OTC pain reliever, it may also be an indication that you have a gallbladder problem. Experiencing little improvement after a change in position, bowel movement, or after passing gas are also indications. “These kind of rule out other things and may help us target the gallbladder more specifically,” says Dr. Yang.

When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

Can Gallbladder Issues cause Acid Reflux? | Gallbladder Stones – Dr.Ravindra BS | Doctors’ Circle

Indigestion can be a sign of a serious health problem. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have indigestion and any of these symptoms:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Weight loss or not feeling hungry
  • Bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • Sudden sharp pain in your belly or abdomen
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain that spreads to your jaw, neck, or arm
  • Difficult, painful swallowing
  • Yellow coloring of your eyes or skin

Also call your healthcare provider if you have indigestion that lasts longer than 2 weeks.

Also Check: What To Do To Help With Heartburn

Isolated Nausea After Eating

Nausea is frequent with almost all gut-related diseases and conditions such as:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease .
  • Chronic gastritis.
  • Acute gastroenteritis .
  • Functional dyspepsia.

What is unique about gallbladder disease is intense nausea after eating. As a gastroenterologist, I always suspected gallstones when my patients report extreme nausea after eating. Also, chronic or symptomatic gallbladder disease may present with isolated nausea. The nausea is almost exclusively after eating .Most of the time, the nausea is disproportionately severe compared to the pain. Consult your doctor if you have a sense of impending vomiting after eating fatty food. Nausea can be a sign of something in your gallbladder. Post-prandial nausea with gallbladder diseases is common. However, we enlisted it in the list of symptoms because:

  • It can be the main sign of mild gallbladder disease .
  • It is often attributed to the stomach or esophageal diseases. You may overlook nausea as a sign of gallbladder disease. Also, some doctors may ignore this sign.

Gallbladder Problems Vs Acid Reflux

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016 | Written by Premier Surgical Staff

Upper abdominal pain can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Among the common causes include acid reflux and gallbladder problems. Learning how to differentiate the pain caused by these disorders can help you in seeking the right treatment.

Gallbladder Problems vs. Acid RefluxThere are different things to consider when determining whether abdominal pain is caused by acid reflux or by a gallbladder problem. Things to consider:

LocationHeartburn is the most distinct symptom of an acid reflux. It is the burning pain that can move from the stomach, up to your abdomen, and to the chest. This abdominal discomfort is felt as a result of a faulty or weakened lower esophageal sphincter which is a muscle at the end of the esophagus. When this muscle does not close properly, stomach contents can move back up into the esophagus.

In contrast, the pain caused by a gallbladder problem can be felt at the middle or upper right section of the abdomen. In some cases, it can radiate to other areas of the body like the chest or the back.

ConditionPeople with acid reflux may notice that the pain worsens when theyre lying down or bending over. Although, this can often be relieved by taking antacids, standing, or belching.

As for gallbladder issues, a cholecystectomy may help. A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder in order to provide relief from pain, infection, and prevent gallstones.

Read Also: Best Foods To Eat With Bad Heartburn

How To Have A Healthy Liver And Good Digestion Without A Gallbladder

First of all its important to realise that you developed a gallbladder problem in the first place because you had an unhealthy liver and a problem with your digestive system. If your liver is not healthy, it will make poor quality bile. The bile will be prone to forming sludge and stones. Just removing the gallbladder doesnt solve that problem, and in fact sludge and stones can form within the liver, compromising its function.

Your Urine Is Dark And Your Stools Are Lighter Than Usual

No one wants to really take a good look at their poop, but doing so could help indicate a gallbladder attack. Dr. Mahadev says to beware of stools that float and dont flush. Thats a sign that you actually maybe have an obstruction of the bile flowing out because bile helps to digest fat, Dr. Mahadev says. If you have a blockage in the bile duct or the pancreas duct, then you are not absorbing the fat in your food and so it makes the stools fatty and float. This blockage is also why your poop might be lighter and your pee might be darker, too.

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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Gallbladder Problems

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 | Written by Premier Surgical Staff

The gallbladder is often taken for granted. Unlike the heart or the liver, we dont often see headlines on How to have a healthy gallbladder. Patients at Premier Surgical sometimes confess they didnt even know what the gallbladder did exactlyuntil there were problems. Learn more in our Gallbladder 101 eBook.

Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ just under your liver. It stores bile, which is a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, the gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct to your small intestine. Most gallbladder problems occur when substances in the bile harden, creating gallstones which can block the duct.

The American Gastroenterological Association suggests more than 25 million Americans have gallstones with 1 million new cases diagnosed annually. Less commonly, cancer can form in the gallbladder.

Most gallbladder issues are initially indicated by pain in the upper right or middle abdomen. The most common symptoms of gallbladder problems are:

  • Abdominal pain, which may range from dull to sharp, and which may worsen after eating a fatty meal
  • Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
  • Sensation of fullness in the abdomen
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Tenderness in the upper right abdomen
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Light or clay unusually colored stool

Health Matters 5/2: Late Night Heartburn Could Be Gallstones

If heartburn keeps you up at night or strikes a few hours after a rich meal, the problem may not be acid reflux.

It may actually be gallstones.

Gallstones affect an estimated 10-15% of the U.S. population, according to the National Institutes of Health , and can lay dormant for years before they start causing symptoms.

If you are concerned about heartburn-like pain, see your doctor for a diagnosis. Once identified, gallstones are easily treated, typically with a combination of diet and lifestyle changes and, if necessary, with minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery.

Women at Greater Risk

Gallstones develop when hardened deposits of bile form in your gallbladder, a small, pear-shaped organ in your upper right abdomen. Bile is a fluid produced by your liver to aid in digestion.

You can have one gallstone or many, and they can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.

Gallstones tend to run in families and occur more often in women than in men, according to the NIH. The risk for gallstones also increases with age and is greater in people who are overweight, eat a diet high in fat, or were recently pregnant.

Pain Similar to Heartburn

Gallstones dont always cause symptoms, but when they do, the pain is often confused with acid reflux or heartburn because the sensations are similar.

Gallstones can cause discomfort that is mild and lasts for several minutes or pain that is more intense and lasts for several hours.

Surgery Often Recommended

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Schedule An Appointment Today

There are medications and therapies that can effectively treat some of the above conditions however, in cases like gallbladder cancer, the most effective treatment is a partial or complete removal of the gallbladder. While this may feel like a frightening prospect, it is actually one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. If youre concerned with your gallbladder health and unsure of whom to turn to, there is no better choice than Dr. Clark.

Thanks to years of experience, Dr. Clark can effectively diagnose and treat your gallbladder condition with advanced robotic-assisted surgery designed to reduce scarring and recovery time. If youre living in pain and discomfort, you dont have to. Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Whalen Clark, a gallbladder surgeon in Tampa.

To learn more about gallbladder surgery in Tampa, or to schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., please contact us today.

Disclaimer:The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Whalen Clark, M.D. website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services of Whalen Clark, M.D. or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

Complications Of Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder & Bloating Connection (Part 1) Dr.Berg [Bloated Stomach & Gallbladder Function]

Without treatment, gallbladder problems can become life-threatening. Gallbladder disease can cause infection that may spread to other parts of the body. Its important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience an unexplained fever. This may be a sign of infection.

A bile duct blockage can cause jaundice. Yellow-tinted skin is a warning sign that you may have a blockage in your bile duct. Chronic diarrhea is also a complication of gallbladder disease.

Also Check: Will Baking Soda Relieve Heartburn

The Good And The Bad About Treatments

The unfortunate news about treating bile reflux is that it appears to be completely independent of lifestyle influences. So a diet change or more exercise or tossing out your cigarettes isnt likely to help. However, with that in mind, bile reflux is often a companion to acid reflux, which does benefit from some lifestyle changes. So you may want to make some changes simply to see if they relieve some of your symptoms.

Here are some changes you might consider

1. Sleep with your head elevated. A wedge pillow can be great for this. When your head is elevated, it helps to keep the stomach acid where they belong.

2. Eat smaller meals, spread throughout the day. Also, allow at least three hours after eating your last meal before going to bed for the night.

3. Drop those extra pounds . Add weight adds pressure on your stomach, which can force its contents up into the esophagus.

4. Avoid those foods that tend to relax the lower esophagus sphincter. These foods include all your favorites: caffeine, chocolate, citrus, carbonated drinks, tomatoes, spicy foods, even peppermint. And if these werent enough, limit your fatty foods, including just about anything you stumble across at a fast food restaurant.

5. Finally, consider limiting your alcohol intake since it also tends to relax the sphincter than keeps the food and liquids in your stomach where they belong.

The Surgical Option

In Conclusion

Medical Disclaimer

Change In Bowel Habits

If you find yourself making more trips to the bathroom or if the consistency of your stool has changed, this may be a signal that your gallbladder isnt working properly. A change in bowel habits is a commonly overlooked symptom of gallbladder disease.

When you need your gallbladder removed, the team at Rockwall Surgical Specialists offers the latest advancements in gallbladder surgery, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery. To learn more, call one of our convenient locations to schedule an appointment or request a booking online.

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Sharp Pains In The Back Abdomen And Right Arm

This is very characteristic of gallbladder infections. A heavy feeling in the abdomen, a pain on the right side of the back, as well as the right arm. Remember that the gallbladder is located on the right side of the abdomen, next to the liver. If it becomes inflamed, the whole region is affected, and the pain is noticeable.

Take into account that on occasions the sharp pain can start at the beginning of an infection. Intense pains can last up to 15 minutes, then will cease and reappear this could last for up to 15 hours. The pain can worsen when you inhale.

If the infection is advanced, and you have multiple gallstones, the pain can become unbearable, and radiate to your shoulders.