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Can gallbladder symptoms present as GERD or asthma?
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Can gallbladder symptoms present as GERD or asthma?

I've had a breathing/coughing problem since June.  It was first diagnosed as bronchitis induced asthma, and after treatment didn't work I went to an allergist/asthma specialist.  They tested me for environmental allergies and my lung capacity and said everything looked ok, and diagnosed GERD.  After omeprazole and Nexium didn't work I went for an endoscopy, which also didn't show anything.    Next I had an abdominal ultrasound and a barium swallow.  I was also tested for celiac, and everything has come out negative, except for minor irritation in my stomach.  I also tried Prevacid for a month and that hasn't helped either.  The gastroenterologist is now suggesting that it may be my gallbladder malfunctioning (no gallstones) and wants me to have a HIDA scan.   Although my observations suggest that ingesting fat may indeed be the culprit, from what I've read on-line the symptoms of gallbladder disease do not match my symptoms.  I've also read about food allergies and these symptoms seem to match up better with what I'm experiencing.   I'm extremely leery of the HIDA scan due to the exposure of more radiation.  (I've had several x-rays in recent months.)  So my questions are:  Can a gallbladder problem present as asthma or GERD?  Are there other ways to diagnose gallbladder disease without the HIDA scan?   Would it make sense to be tested for food allergies first?

Thank you!
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1) Can gallbladder problems present as asthma or GERD? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: If your gallbladder isn't functioning correctly, it could be causing slowed digestion. If acid's hanging out in your stomach too long, then it can cause irritation of the stomach wall (gastritis). If acid starts getting up too high (Larynxophageal reflux, as opposed to just Gastroesophageal reflux) then it could get into your lungs, causing inflammation and problems breathing. So back to the short answer: yes.

2) Are there other ways to diagnose gallbladder disease without the HIDA scan? If you've had an ultrasound scan done and it showed no stones, than the HIDA/CCK scan would be the only test that could give you a conclusive response as to whether your gallbladder is pumping properly. There is another test, the MRCP, which can check for problems in the area, but this test doesn't directly test the gallbladder, just the tubes that take bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine.

3) Would it make sense to be tested for food allergies first? It always makes sense to get tested for food allergies, and food intolerances, for that matter. It also makes sense for you to have a HIDA/CCK done. These two are not mutually exclusive, and should in fact be done.

FYI: I was diagnosed with biliary dyskinesia (EF 19%). I still have my gallbladder, because I changed my diet so now it doesn't hurt, but I do get GERD symptoms and used to get asthma symptoms. Note that if your upper endoscopy showed no erosion from your GERD, then you may actually have Non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux (NERD) which is why nexium didn't seem to work on you: your problem may actually e too little acid. (There's a high incidence of failure of PPI's with people who have NERD.) In your case, you may actually want to try out some of the apple cider vinegar solutions that are so popular. (ACV hasn't worked for me, so don't take my word on this. Do your own research.)

Good luck.
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