Irritable Bowel Syndrome Or Gallbladder Pain
Because people who have gallstones and gallbladder disease often experience gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, they will note that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems share many similarities and they may wonder if these conditions are related to each other.
Gallbladder problems can certainly cause digestive symptoms, however, the common, conventional medical recommendation- to surgically remove the gallbladder- does not alleviate IBS symptoms and often, will not relieve the symptoms associated with gallbladder disease either.
For instance, the pain of gallbladder attacks due to bile duct blockages, (biliary colic) can still occur as gallstones may form in the liver ducts after gallbladder removal when the underlying causes for their formation are not treated.
Difficulty Digesting Fats After Surgery
Difficulty digesting high fat meals and fried foods is a typical gallbladder symptom before gallbladder removal, due to stones and inflammation blocking the gallbladder’s function and bile flow. After surgery, difficulty digesting high fat meals remains a problem.
Can Gallbladder Removal Cause IBS?
After gallbladder removal, the bile, which is created in the liver trickles steadily into the small intestine without customized concentration or volume adjustments related to the meals we eat. Constant bile contact with GI tissues in the absence of food leads to chronic inflammation and more serious disorders including cancer in some cases and IBS.
Bile acids are very important for the digestion of fats and proper absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Sometimes abdominal issues such as gas, nausea and bloating after meals are distinctive gallbladder symptoms that most of the time prompt doctors to recommend gallbladder removal. Imaging and tests done to diagnose gallstones may or may not confirm them, and these other digestive discomfort symptoms may be related to issues aside from gallbladder function, yet the surgery is often presented as a simple, comprehensive solution.
Chronic gallbladder pain directly related to gallstones is in 50% relieved by the gallbladder’s removal, however if the gallbladder is functioning at a low level, removing it will only guarantee that it does not function at all. Gallbladder symptoms may continue in some individuals even years after gallbladder surgery, and sometimes with more frequency than before the removal.
Medical studies have indicated that patients who have IBS or its symptoms are more likely to have cholecystectomy, (gallbladder removal surgery) when they do not have confirmed gallstones. This intervention for a person who already experiences GI inflammation and digestive inefficiencies may lead to further exacerbation of their symptoms.
Dangers Of Gallbladder Surgery
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, which is the most common method, is not without risks inherent to surgical procedures including those related to general anesthesia and the possibility of the common bile duct being cut due to poor visibility. This occurs in as many as 1 in 1000 procedures or up to 6% and consequences can be deadly. Of the more than 500,000 cholecystectomy cases performed in the US each year, it is estimated that only a few thousand of those may be medically necessary.
When presenting with IBS symptoms, testing for food allergies, limiting known digestive challenges such as dairy, high fat food and friend foods, performing food elimination studies and supplementing with enzymes may all help to treat the cause for symptoms and prevent unnecessary gallbladder surgery. In addition, because eliminating excess cholesterol in the diet and other healthy dietary changes help to improve liver and gallbladder health, these steps may reduce or eliminate gallstones if they are present. Foods which help stimulate optimal bile flow and avoidance of known risk factors can ensure healthy gallbladder function.
Known Risks Factors For Gallstone Development
Known risk factors for gallstone formation include:
- Age- over 40
- Gender- female
- Multiple births or hormone medications
- Rapid weight loss/crash dieting
- Obesity and high fat diets