Do I have a gallbladder problem or not?

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/11/2009 3:00 PM (GMT -7)   
I seem to be a medical mystery.  I've seen four doctors and no one has a clue.
I have been complaining of a mild upper right sided pain for about 3 years.  I had it checked out last year in March with an ultrasound and blood and urine tests.  Everything came back normal so I stopped pursuing it.  The pain would come and go and it wasn't that severe.
In October of 2008, I went to the ER with upper right sided pain and a fever.  I had an elevated white blood cell count, and originally they thought I had appendicities.  After a CT scan, I was told I had diverticulitis.  Ever since then, and especially since November of 2008.  I have been in HORRIBLE pain.  The pain is mostly on my upper right abdomen.  It starts to the right of and above my navel and wraps around to the side of my body.  I am tender to the touch.  I also have some left side pain, but it isn't as severe or as frequent as the right side pain.
I had a follow up CT scan in November when I was in severe pain--I was in more pain in November than I was when I was diagnosed with diverticulitis in October.  The CT scan, blood, and urine were all clear.  I asked the doctor, "Then why am I in so much pain?"  He said, "I don't know," and discharged me with no means to control the pain.
I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy three weeks ago.  I do have diverticulosis, but it is very superficial, unlikely to ever get infected, and it's in a different part of my colon than where I've been experiencing pain.  I probably never had diverticulitis.  There is nothing on my colonoscopy/endoscopy that would explain the pain.  My liver enzymes are normal.  If it were my appendix, it would have burst by now.  I was also tested for celiac, IBD, and H Pylori, and all tests were negative.
I had a HIDA scan that showed no stones and my gallbladder functioning at 57%.  It also said "suspicious for chronic inflammation of the gallbladder", but the surgeon I talked to about having it out said there's no way to test for it.  I went to see another doctor for a second opinion, and he thinks that having my gallbladder out won't change my symptoms, but he has no suggestions on what to do to otherwise help me.  I also have him looking at my CT films from October and November to see what is on the CT scan since I now know that it's not diverticulitis and I am having labs drawn to be tested for a handful of other rare disease that cause abdominal pain.
When I was on the table getting the scan, I had a little bit of right sided pain, but it wasn't bad.  An hour after I got home from the HIDA scan, I thought my abdomen was going to explode because I was in so much pain.
Throughout all of this, I have also been experiencing severe neausea and light headedness with what I can only describe as a cross between a burp and a hiccup.  When I burp, the nausea subsides.  I've had this symptom for years, but it has gotten significantly worse now and it is really disrupting my life.
These symptoms wake me up at 3:00 am and generally persist throughout the day.  I have noticed flare-ups when I eat something fatty.  For example, I thought my abdomen was on fire the last time I ate salmon.  But anything I consume can start this pain/nausea cycle, and it never really lets up.  The pain can get so bad that I need narcotics.
My doctors think I'm a hypochondriac and won't give me anything for the pain.  I have a bottle of Vicodin right now, but at some point it's going to run out and I need some answers.  
My symptoms all scream gallbladder, though there are some things I an NOT experiencing, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or pain in my shoulder.  The no diarrhea is probably the biggest red flag to my doctors.
Any ideas, suggestions, or advice?  I'm really miserable.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 52
   Posted 2/15/2009 5:41 AM (GMT -7)   
I've posted before, but I believe my GB is not working right.  Medically the GI Doc believes I have gastroparesis.  I don't know if you've had a gastric emptying study, but, it might be something else to consider.  Either way, the treatment is pretty limited so I took it upon myself to do what I can do. 
Whatever I have (it's still a mystery) I have learned that I developed a sensitivity to eggs and probably some other foods.  I suspect whenever I eat one of those trigger foods, my bile ducts get inflamed and bile backs up.  The gallbladder itself might be frozen for some amount of time causing it to thicken.  Depending on what I eat afterwords (next few days), the symptoms will vary, from "D" to pain, to whatever else.  It really depends on where the backups occur and when. 
Since I've recognized this trend, and found out about eggs (and a few others), I've been managing much better.  If you assume it's a bile duct / gallbladder disorder like I do, you can follow a gallbladder diet but you do need to find out your trigger foods.   Then you try to minimize the amount of bile produced and to keep it as thin as possible.  Beets and poly/mono-unsaturated fats, and healthy foods are the best.  Beets really make a difference for me--which is too bad because I don't care for them otherwise. 
You could have other food sensitivities, or a different problem, so keep a food journal and cut back to a very basic diet (rice, potato, some low-fat protein, etc).  It can take a few days or longer to notice a change from something new, so, don't assume because you ate "x" yesterday you can eat it everyday.  For example I can eat pizza once in a while (now that I'm stable) but if I eat it a couple days in a row I will have problems. 
There are a number of natural items that have been studied and may help.  It's the same process there, try one for a while and see, if not, stop for a few days before switching to the next one.  I personally find DGL licorice to be very helpful for nausea and appetite issues.  Doesn't help for pain or directly for heartburn.  Lastly, you may have depleted some vitamins and mineral stores over time, which can cause other symptoms.  Getting your system back to 'normal' is difficult on a restricted diet and taking vitamins/supplements can cause symptoms too--so--it's all a very careful balancing act. 

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/15/2009 7:58 AM (GMT -7)   
To hottm08h           2/15/09        When I read your post it was as if I wrote it myself.  Everything you have experienced is what I am going through right now except for the vomiting and nausea.  I have that sharp pain under the right side of the rib cage which travels around the right side to my back. I get pain (not sever) so I guess I would say discomfort to my upper back near the rt shoulder.  I went for 2 ct scans where the last 10 minutes they inject isotopes to stimulate gall bladder activity.  I am going for a 3rd next week because no one seems to know what's wrong.  My doctor has asked his partner to evaluate me because he is at a loss.  I have had every exam (colonoscopy, endoscopy, blood work etc) just as you have had.  I can't seem to figure out what triggers it because it is pretty constant and I don't eat fatty foods.  I did eat something fatty on purpose to see it it would trigger a reaction but everything is the same.  It is an absolute nightmare, I sometimes get a bad taste from this but I am desperate for a solution.  People are saying that I have a high stress job and that it is IBS but I don't buy it.   If I get a solution or something to relieve this I will contact you.   Good luck!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 2/18/2009 6:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Gall bladders are bizarre things.  I had all the symptoms EXCEPT I didn't hurt on my right side.  I sometimes hurt into my shoulder, but my attacks were more or less across my diaphram and weren't on my right side in paritcular.  And so doctors said, "It must not be her GB because it's not on the right side."
Idiots.  I suffered through that for 5 years, before it finally hurt on the right side and I got it taken out.  Ruined my entire college career; I did not have a good time in college at all, and it was partly due to the reoccuring pains, diarrhea and nausea.
I'll tell you this: when it came out, it quit hurting.  That was what was wrong with mine--chronic inflammation.  They didn't know that, though, until they had done the autopsy on it. 
I still have problems with diarrhea, but at least I do not have that agonizing pain anymore.  I'd have it taken out a hundred times over if I had to, the relief from the pain was so great.
That you have an elevated white count and a fever is a marker for an infection/inflammation.  Given where you are tender, that's a good sign it's your gall bladder. 
At this point, what have you got to lose?  If they take it out and it doesn't get any better, you're not out a whole lot.  If the pain goes away, you'll have hit the jackpot.
If it weren't for the fever, I'd think you should also look at food allergies, because they can cause cramping and more, but it seems odd to have a fever with a food allergy.  Although I guess it's possible that you could irritate your gut so bad that it would become inflamed and give you a fever.  But even then, diarrhea and mucus are both common with food allergy problems.   
I feel for you; a lot of my doctors didn't seem to be overly concerned with my pain and suffering either.  It's made me bitter and highly distrustful of the medical community in general. 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 2/18/2009 6:32 PM (GMT -7)   
I forgot to mention that gall bladder problems run in families, so if some of your relatives have had problems, that's likely to be the source of yours. Likewise if any of them have had food allergies or any sort of auto-immune disease (crohn's, UC, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), those are genetic as well. You can have a mother with fibro and a grandfather with rheum. arthritis and you can wind up with Crohn's.

Other things that increase your likelihood for GB problems:

over 40
pregnant or have been pregnant
of Native American heritage (I also believe African heitage is at a higher risk)

My mother said when she was in nursing school, they taught them the rule of "4-F's": fair, fat, female, forty. If someone had the symptoms, and more than one of those markers, that was a pretty good way to tell.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/23/2009 9:33 PM (GMT -7)   
I posted this under another topic on this website but thought i would repeat it here. I had gall bladder problems for several years with pain at night and it had gotten pretty bad but usally subsided after a severe episode of naseau and vomitting. Not fun at all. That was getting pretty old and so frequent, almost daily, that I needed to do something. I have a terrible aversion to doctors so i went to a nutitionally oriented doc who is pretty much out of the main stream. We examined my diet and he thought i ate pretty healthy but was appalled by my vice of drinking diet sodas (Diet Dr. Peppers, 3-6 a day). He said i should spend a month weaning myself off of those and then come back and we would do some blood work and test. I assured him i could just quit if he thought that it was a problem and he assured me it was. That was two years ago

I have had a total of two carbonated sodas in the past almost two years. The thing is the gallbladder pain was gone within a few days. And hasn't really bothered me since. I never made it back to the doctor. Might be something to try if you a heavy soda drinker. Would love to hear if it helped anyone else.

FYI-I try not to consume aspartame but am not as strict about that as i am the sodas. I drink artificially sweetened tea occaissionally so the difference had to be the soda and not the sweetners. I am overweight but generally in pretty good health. i do not have irritable bowel syndrome

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 2/28/2009 5:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Fly, caffeine was a MAJOR problem for me with my gall bladder.  It was my number one trigger.  When I finally figured this out, I gave up colas cold turkey and greatly improved... for a few months.  My gall bladder problem eventually came back and was worse than ever, and I had it taken out.  To this day I still can not handle much caffeine.  If I'm on my Welchol, I can handle what's in green tea, but no more.  I can't drink caffeinated black tea or decaf coffee (which still has more caffeine in it than herbal teas), much less real coffee or colas--not even while on bile sequestrant meds. 
Colas also contain a lot of citric acid.  I also can't handle orange juice and sometimes tomato sauce bothers me.  And I can't have too much Kool-Aid too many days in a row because of the high acid content, as well as too much Vitamin C (which also gives me diarrhea if I exceed the daily recommended value). 
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