Gallbladder Guide cont'd

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 1/2/2009 9:20 AM (GMT -6)   
The original thread of this topic was "locked". Not sure what that means, but it was such an interesting thread, with lots of helpful information.
Aside from helpful info on symptoms and more, the thread has considerable information on the ease of gallbladder removal surgery, with a large number of individuals very happy with their decision to have theirs removed. I know several people myself who have had theirs removed and their opinions are split, about whether they feel better for it, or continue to experience problems. This post may be more for those of you hoping for nonsurgical options.
I was diagnosed, about 14 months ago, with a "significantly disfunctional gall bladder." With the Hidascan, I retained over 60% of my bile. I met with the surgen, who immediately gave me the sales pitch about the ease of surgery and how I could immediately begin eating "normal" again. I might have been more receptive to his recommendations except, through our discussion, I became aware of the fact that he had not even reviewed my medical record of the scan. He came in thinking I had stones only to learn I was retaining "sludge." It didn't change his opinion, although he did mention that he has always felt the scan itself can cause people to retain bile because they "lock up" when the injection brings on the feeling of nausea. He was ready to sign me up. I had questions I wanted to explore first.
Looking back I had had symptoms for several years, never extreme until a year prior to my test. My right side cramping, increased belching and nausea, and three very violent vomiting episodes over the year prior to my test is what had me checking things out. When I went for the test, while lying on the table, the nurse informs me that I may feel nausious from the injection, just as she is pressing the needle. Instantly I felt like I was going to go full bore into a major vomiting spell and I tightened every muscle in my body and shut down every orfice. I don't think the bile could have emptied if it tried.
Since I felt I had some time (no need for emergency GB surgery), I began investigating natural options first.
Here is some of what I have learned.
I know one person who was receiving natural care for her GB condition and died from complications as a result. So I did not proceed naively.
Eating what you want, sounds great, but be realistic, with or without surgery, eating what you want is always an option, and with or without surgery it will result in problems sometime down the road. Like drinking, smoking, extreme sports, and more, eating what you want will provide short term gratification with long term costs to your health. For most people, eating what you want has already resulted in the removal of one valuable organ and the addition of medication to their daily routine. And for many, removal of the GB does not actually provide this "benefit" there are still limitations.
For me, a dietary change seemed reasonable.
Thinking more broadly, the gall bladder is the respository of what is left after the liver has filtered your body of waste. At the very least be aware that what happens in your GB, may indicate problems with your liver, or too much waste in your system. What you eat, breathe and absorb will either be used for your body's benefit, disposed of if your system is in top form (and you don't overload it,) or things will begin to clog up.
I began focusing on my liver health and minimizing (no, not eliminating) the kinds of waste that can clog things up.
How does it empty?
There is incomplete information out there as to how the GB empties regulary. It is known that certain fats trigger a hormone that send the signal to "open up." It is also known, anatomicly that the bile empties into the small intestine along with the enzymes from the pancreas (into the duodenum).  If any bile makes it into your stomach it would be because of obstruction in your digestive tract (i.e. constipation). If the tube is clogged at the end, the bladder can't empty easily. If it can't empty, stuff that moves the slowest stays in the bladder (sludge, then stones). So resolving constipation issues becomes valuable to GB health.
For things to not build up in the bladder, whether sludge or stone, the emptying process needs to be often enough, with sufficient fluid (clean water is far better than sode, coffee, alcohol, etc), and an appropriate ph balance (a certain amount of acid is needed to hinder stone formation). Some fats or oils are needed in the diet to trigger the hormones (but not troublesome ones like lard, or greasy fries). And excercises that can gently place the bladder in a different positions occasionally, rather than the vertical position 16+ hours each day (lying down at night helps but is not enough, tipping yourself upside down a few times during the can be better). Movement that affects your core will do wonders for your entire digestive system. Sedentary living is a great way to collect crap in all the pouches and tubes that fill our mid section. Note, some aggressive excercises can cause trouble for you GB.
So here I am 14 months later. I will place my disclaimer up front; I don't know how things will be functioning five years from now, but...after beginning my diet and lifestyle changes I can honestly say in the past 12 months I have only had a couple of small right-rib cramps, and my nausea has only surfaced on a couple of occasions. I do still belch alot, but I have been working on my constipation issues, which are improved, but still need work. I have not vomited at all this past 14 months.
I do not consider myself "cured." I consider myself healthier than I was, and watchful for any return or flair up. I do not see myself removing my gall bladder anytime soon, and yes, I still enjoy a pizza, a glass of beer, chocolate (used to always give me GB cramps) and other things I want to eat. I am just aware of the potential challenge it may create and try to be sensible about it, and often times couter it with special care.
This is my experience. It has worked for me. If you have serious GB issues (serious inflammation, major stones, etc.) surgery is likely your best, possibly safest, option. But learning to manage your diet, and your digestive system without a GB will be valuable in ensuring good outcomes.
For those of you who are uncertain, and not at a critical stage, I hope this helps.
To the original poster of the Gll Bladder Guide, thanks for the effort in providing some great information.
Good luck to all.

Post Edited (redee2moov) : 1/3/2009 7:56:03 AM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 52
   Posted 1/2/2009 9:59 AM (GMT -6)   
In late '07 I started experiencing some common digestive symptoms that pointed to Gallbladder.  I also have a family history of problems.  I had an ultrasound and no stones were found but there are some small polyps.  Without a diagnosis I began following a Gallbladder Diet, eating healthy and avoiding unnecessary foods.  Over time I also noticed an improvement.  I still had symptoms and pushed for more information. 
I had a HIDA scan done about Mid-'08 and it was, in my opinion, inconclusive.  The first part of the test did not show enough bile entering the gallbladder for them to do the second part.  This is often referred to as non-visualization of the gallbladder and combined with other symptoms can be a good indicator it has a problem.  I was going to speak to a surgeon but my GI doc had me do a gastric emptying test to rule out Gastroparesis.  That GES came back showing delayed motility, indicating GP is a factor.  I believe I emptied about 50% of in 90minutes which is not awful, but apparently the overall curve showed delays.  I want to note that I read in a few places that if you fast for too long before the HIDA Scan that can lead to non-visualization.  The part of 'too long' concerns me as I had been scheduled for a 9am test which was somehow canceled without my knowledge, I called that AM and was able to get the test done later in the day, around 1pm, but by that time it'd been almost 16hrs since I last ate or drank anything.... something I will be talking with my doctor about at the next visit. 
Whether or not I have GP, or GB Disease, I was and am managing my symptoms by following a healthier diet.  I understand that many folks who have successful Gallbladder surgery, and minimal symptoms afterwords do not discuss it online.  That said, I've read enough reports of folks who have had ongoing or worse digestive problems after removal that I am inclined to keep mine as long as I can manage the symptoms--especially given the fact that the doctors still don't know conclusively what my problem(s) is/are. 
In addition to eating healthier there are a number of foods and supplements that may help those with Gallbladder and Digestive symptoms, no magic cures I believe, but things that help.  I'd caution folks to try only one item at a time and keep track of the changes.  Some items folks I've tried and others may want to read up on / research are Beets, Unsaturated Fats (Poly and Mono), Artichokes, Milk Thistle, Green Apples, & (Soy) Lecithin. 
There's a long list of things to avoid in a gallbladder diet.  I personally stay away from transfats and saturated fats, pork, eggs, caffeine, & chocolate.  Pork and Eggs I've noted a direct impact, the others I can tolerate in small quantities but still avoid in general. 

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 1/2/2009 2:14 PM (GMT -6)   

Great addition to the collection of wisdom. I loved your thoughtful insight.

I needed to correct a typo in my writing. The 14th paragraph should read, "For things to NOT build up....."

Sorry for the confusion.

I look forward to more responses!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 1/2/2009 2:56 PM (GMT -6)   
Great thread! :-)

You can edit your own post by clicking the pencil icon at the upper right corner of it.

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 1/3/2009 10:00 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks 7Lil, for the editing suggestion. This will be very helpful. Proof read as I might, I seem to always drop in a critical typo that I don't find until after submitting the post.

Have a geat day!

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 2/2/2009 4:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello all. As you can see I am new here however, I have been a lurker since last December. That's when all of this stuff with my body started happening. I read the old locked GB Thread and this one and figured I could get some answers from someone here....
Well, I guess I should tell you s a little background about me. I am 39 y/o and I was diagnosed with GERD in Jan 06. I was put on Protonix (prn). I was then diagnosed with H-Pylori in May 07 and went through the anitbiotic couse with no problems. My GERD got worse last summer and I was put on Nexium daily. So now to the present. It was December the 8th 2008 and I was enjoying pizza and hot wings with my family. I have never had any problems eating these foods as long as I took my Nexium. Well, needless to say, I had barely finished my 1st piece of pizza and 1 hot wing when I got an extreme pain in the middle of my abdomen! I thought whoa....this is not normal. The pain got so intense I felt like I could not breath. I went to try and lay down which made it 10 times worse!! The pain then went to my right side (above my rib cage) and then to my back and right shoulder. I knew then that it had to be my gall bladder. I told my husband to take me to the emergency room where they did an U/S. They of course found No Stones. I was pumped up with Demerol and told to follow up with my PCP the next day. I did and had a CT Scan done the same day which again showed No Stones. My doc referred me to a GI doc which I saw and he recommended I have the HIDA Scan. I had the HIDA Scan performed last week. I have my follow-up tomorrow with my GI doc but called the office today to see if I could get the results of the Scan. The nurse said was "normal." Now what??  confused   am not sure what happens next. Just wondering if anyone has had inconclusive answers and what the next step should be? Thanks so much for reading.....

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/4/2009 7:03 PM (GMT -6)   
I have a question, because I'm really at my wits end.  Last Sunday I almost passed out, I thought it was because I had take some medicine on an empty stomach.  Then I woke up Monday morning with diahrreah, throwing up, indigestion, stomach cramps and back hurting.  I stayed in bed all last week.  I went to the ER Thursday, because the pain was so bad.  I can't even drink water without it giving me indigestion and even belching.  They gave me an IV and something for the nausea.  Stayed in bed all weekend.  Went to my MD yesterday, still no better.  He took blood work, but it isn't back yet.  Today I went for a sono and they said everything came back fine.  I'm still no better.  I have lost 13 lbs in 10 days and am only eating popcicles.  The indigestion is very bad, I get it even thought I'm not eating and I will take a Tums or Rolaid and it will go away for a little bit, but comes back.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to what this may be?

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 52
   Posted 2/6/2009 10:12 AM (GMT -6)   
If you have reasons to suspect it's your gallbladder (subject of this thread) then the deciding test would be the HIDA Scan.  The HIDA scan is fairly expensive (even with insurance) and is generally ordered after most other (more common) causes are ruled out.  The results need to be weighed with all the other symptoms and tests for the doctor and/or surgeon to determine if the Gallbladder is worth removing.  In my experience, if you don't have any gallstones most doctors will dismiss gallbladder issues, at least until everything else is ruled out first. 
For now, if you want to try some natural aids to help with stomach symptoms, look into Ginger (the real stuff, not the pills).  I personally find DGL Licorice tablets to work well for my stomach, and it's fairly well researched.  Lastly, you can read up on Mastic Gum.  Some folks find it works well for them, but the science is inconclusive on that one, in my opinion.  In most cases, your doctor will probably prescribe an antacid.  The natural items I've listed have been used by many folks also on antacids, but it's always a good idea to clear the usage with your doctor. 
All that said, if you still suspect gallbladder then when you can start eating food again you can also try a gallbladder diet.  It's been discussed here and elsewhere, it's definitely worth reading up on and imo, fairly low risk to try.  Beets do seem to work their GB magic, for me at least. 
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