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symptoms after gallbladder removal
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symptoms after gallbladder removal

I had my gallbladder removed 3 years ago.  Ever since, I have experienced extreme diarrhea.  I have started taking cholestyramine every day and it's made a big difference.  I've read that something called habba syndrome is a result of a non functioning gallbladder.  The problem with the cholestyramine is that it makes my stomach protude and feel bloated all of the time.  I'll admit that it's better than having diarrhea 24-7, but is there anything else that would help with out the bloating?
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I had my gallbladder removed ten months ago and have experienced the explosive diarrhea, usually following some kind of food poisoning-type stomach infection or eating high-fat, low-fiber foods for a stretch (usually affects me on vacation if I don't watch my diet, or during PMS chocolate indulgences).

Both situations require a large shot of bile at once which is not possible without a gallbladder (to destroy infections and break down fat), so I get sick. As I recover, I tend not to eat much for a few days, but meanwhile, my bile's flowing like a stream out of my liver, so when I do start eating again, everything comes right out of me within twenty minutes of drinking any kind of hot liquid without a meal or just after a meal, and this continues for about 1-2 weeks to varying degrees. I understand the distress that comes with it--no fun.

However, I do have some coping mechanisms that help get it back in balance:

1. Follow the BRAT (bananas-rice-applesauce-toast) diet for a few days with a little bit of fat added (some butter on the toast, perhaps) to help bind the excess bile. I may even eat noodles with a SMALL amount of olive oil (1 tsp).

2. Drink a small amount of soy milk in a cup of herbal tea or by itself (it's dairy-free and contains calcium, which binds bile and therefore reduces inflammation). If I don't have diarrhea, I can drink full-strength coffee with soy milk in it with no reaction, but if I drink it black, look out! The same is true for a latte--I can drink a latte with no problem--suspect it's the calcium and protein which the bile binds to.

3. Take 1 Calcium-D tablet with morning and evening meals; reduce or eliminate if constipation becomes an issue (seems like a dream, right? :)); also, make sure you drink enough water while taking, and avoid if you have existing kidney problems. I stop taking these once I'm regular and eating normally without having to question whether I should really leave the house. ;)

Once the diarrhea stops, I treat myself well for a person without a gallbladder:

1. Eat regularly, and make sure I have enough fat and protein and fiber each time I eat. When I miss breakfast, I can have problems--I suspect it's because the bile keeps running from my liver to my intestine while I sleep, so it's ready to clear out the second I eat anything, and the longer I wait, well, the worse it is.
2. It's OK to "overdo" it occasionally when out with friends or with family, but if I do it everyday, I'll have the diarrhea problems, whether intermittently or everyday. This is especially true if I try to "diet" for weight loss by really cutting out a lot of food too quickly. It is possible to lose weight, but do it gradually. I've had a lot of success with curtailing my diarrhea while following the weight watchers points plan. It seems to give my body enough fat but not too much, and I lose weight slowly.
3. Avoid "fake" and unhealthy (fried) food, as well as foods that I know irritate me (as much as I love them!). Breaking down those kind of oils and chemicals are even harder for my body without a gallbladder. I love milk chocolate, for instance, but beyond a small piece or two, it causes problems in the digestive region, so I've learned to substitute with a cup of good hot cocoa. Same sweet taste, no bad after affects. Also, I've had to eliminate all sushi because I find I get sick easily from it, where before surgery I could eat it with no problem. I'm bummed about that, but can order "cooked" rolls when I do go out with friends.

The biggest problem for me happens when I do find balance and then "forget" that I have a problem to begin with. The old habits creep in and then I find myself dealing with the bile salt-D again (which, incidentally, is where I am right now...) I'm off to get some BRAT food, and just took a calcium-D tab.

Hang in there, and experiment! If it's any consolation, I know that the diarrhea can be stopped by discovering your own body's special recipe for compensating for gallbladder loss.

Cici
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