I'm a 44 yr old fit and petite female. For the past 5-6 years I've had intermittent gallbladder pain, maybe once every 3 months or so. I know it is this because the pain is very distinct, upper right quadrant, feels very tender with rebound when I try to press in that area. No nausea but lots of belching and no desire to eat when it's happening. It has ALWAYS been precipitated by my drinking coffee. Let me say that I've had a 'bad' stomach my whole life (many tests and nothing ever found) and coffee has been a love/hate relationship for me. It gives me indigestion and heartburn so I go off of it for a while but eventually come back.
After the 2nd or third gallbladder pain episode the first year, at my primary's prompting, I had an ultrasound and though it showed that my gallbladder was swollen/inflamed (this was during an episode), there were NO stones. Another ultrasound was done a few weeks later and my gallbladder went back to normal (flat and not swollen). When the attacks happen, they last about 2 days the pain just quiets down on its own. This is not the stabbing, run to the emergency-room kind of pain people talk of but rather a persistent pain that is very uncomfortable and very localized in the right upper quadrant. When it's going on I do not want to eat and whatever I do digests very slowly. I avoid all caffeine and high fats foods of course while this is going on.
I have come to the conclusion after quite a few episodes over 5-6 years that the real instigator is COFFEE. If I start drinking it regularly again, after about several weeks of regular consumption the heartburn comes back, and, eventually the gallbladder pain/inflammation. I had a referral to a surgeon to consider a cholecystectomy but I don't feel like that's an answer to this. He even told me he could not guarantee this would relieve the pain. I am just wondering if you've every had patients where caffeine/Coffee was a strong initiiator of cholecystitis?
I am going through same thing right now...I have decided to go ahead with the surgery as I am hoping my discomfort will be cured... I cant imagine going on with this for years and years i am only 32. I accidentally was given a regular coffee last Friday and died of pain for 2 days... so yes I believe caffeine is a big trigger.
Jax, yes, it is awful. For me it doesn't start right away. If I've been off coffee for a while and start back drinking it, I usually end up having the gallbladder pain maybe a week or two into having the coffee each day. I get a lot of telltale symptoms that an episode is on the way (indigestion, reflux, and slight pains in the right upper area, etc) and then it will just hit me on a given day after that 'last' cup of coffee. I feel for you. Do you have stones too? I don't. At least not that they could see. Do other foods/drinks trigger it for you? I am very reluctant to remove my gallbladder because I've read on here, and other boards, that many people have this post cholycystechtomy syndrome that ends up being like trading one problem for another. One thing my doctor did tell me (actually the surgeon himself) is that the surgery was not a guaranteee of pain relief. I hope you have a better outcome than a lot of others and I don't blame you for not wanting to keep going on with this.
No i dont have stones either... actually only test that showed my problem was the HIDA scan, they did tell me surgery was not guranteed either (but then again nothing in life is) but did tell me its a very high rate of success for people with biliary dyskinesia... at this point pretty much every time I eat something I have discomfort, nausea, vomitting...i have lost 35 lbs since all of this started 5 months ago... I am very nervous as I have read alot of negative outcomes of the surgery... but remember people wouldnt be posting their success stories on here, they are out feeling healthy :-)
I don't blame you. If they feel that your GB is the cause of your constant symptoms (and you've had other possibilities explored/tested for) then what choice do you have? Feeling like that all the time when you eat is awful and I don't blame you. You can't just continue this way or you'll be malnourished and nutrient deficient at some point. You're right that It would be unimaginable to go years feeling like that. I may eventually have mine removed (coukd have done it last year even-had surgical appt but cancelled) but feel it is too soon for me to decide since my problem has not been nonstop like yours. I should also get a HIDA scan before deciding (my primary recommended it) but haven't yet. Dont know where you live but here in US they will remove your gallbladder at the drop of a hat. They are very quick to recommend this type of surgery without adequately detailing the ramifications and, hence, perhaps the incidence we see of those with post cholycystectomy issues. I truly hope the surgery turns out to really relieve your pain and GI Symptoms. I
Let me clarify that it seems the vast majority of doctors feel that cholecystectomy is a very safe procedure and that we have no need for our gallbladders. I think both of these convictions could be intelligently debated, the latter perhaps more so than the former. This is why I haven't yet made the decision to have it removed. Once it has been done, there's no turning back.
Thank you... definitely go for the HIDA scan might show what the problem is for you as well. I live in Canada...i saw two GI's and a surgeon before deciding yes I will go, they all believe it will solve my problems... hopefully they are correct. Good luck to you as well... get on the doc to order that HIDA.
I too suffer from this. And I too have a love/hate relationship with coffee. I have been trying for years to quit caffeine, but like you, after a few weeks I am back on it. It also takes some time for the caffeine to affect me. For me, I have just been trying to drink it in moderation. Not everyday, but maybe once or twice a week just to curb the craving. I have gone as long as 5 months with no pain. I did not have gallstones for many years but got the pain, just a few years ago I was told I have tiny stones. I have been trying to help my digestion and gallstones with vitamins, drinking lemon water with honey, and apple juice (apple juice softens the gallstones, lemon water dissolves them) I found this article at livestrong.com that explains why caffeine affects the gallbladder. Hope this helps and you feel better soon!!
Beverages to Avoid
Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause gallbladder flare-ups. Beverages like tea, coffee or sodas can all contain caffeine that irritates your gallbladder. Instead, switch to decaffeinated beverages to reduce the likelihood you will experience problems. Alcohol also can stimulate your gallbladder and you should consume it in moderation or avoid it entirely if you experience severe gallbladder effects after drinking it.
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