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Is Your Gallbladder Struggling? 6 Signs to Look Out For

Woman sitting on bed hugging stomach with head on knees
Read on to see a few symptoms that your gallbladder may need some love and how it could be telling you there is a problem.

The gallbladder--one of the lesser known organs that, while not considered a vital organ like the heart, brain or lungs, still serves an important purpose in the body.

The gallbladder stores bile, a thick liquid that's produced by the liver to help us digest fat. When we eat, the gallbladder's thin, muscular lining squeezes bile into the small intestine through the main bile duct. The more fat we eat, the more bile the gallbladder injects into the digestive tract.

Gallstones are calcified bile. Many times, people can have gallstones and not even know it. Gallstones typically create an issue when they get in the way of the bile moving out of the gallbladder. This can be extremely painful!

However, there are typically signs and symptoms that your gallbladder is needing some love well before you get to the gallstone removal stage.

  • Pain between the shoulder blades. Gallbladder pain is often referred to areas like the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades. This is known as “referred pain” and it occurs because the same nerves that innervate the gallbladder also supply these areas!

  • Constant burping. Digestion of fats that becomes impaired due to poor gallbladder function can lead to increased gas production in the digestive system, resulting in frequent burping. You may also often have hiccups!

  • Fatty food intolerances. Your gallbladder is responsible for releasing stored bile to help digest fats. If the gallbladder is not functioning correctly or if there are gallstones blocking the flow of bile, digestion becomes inefficient and difficult, leading to intolerance of fatty foods. You may find yourself feeling sick after eating chicken thighs, avocados or bacon.

  • Abdominal pain that comes and goes. Gallbladder pain can be intermittent, especially if it is related to the contraction of the gallbladder or the movement of gallstones. Pain may be triggered by meals, especially those high in fat. This pain usually presents in your right side--near your liver!

  • Sensitivity to spicy foods. Spicy foods stimulate the release of digestive juices, including bile. If the gallbladder isn’t able to release enough bile, consuming spicy foods may worsen symptoms or trigger an attack.

  • Caffeine worsening upper right side abdominal pain. As a stimulant, caffeine can stimulate the gallbladder to contract. The increased contraction can lead to pain if there are gallstones present or the gallbladder isn’t functioning correctly.

My own experience with gallstones (and the unnecessary removal of my gallbladder) was that I was able to completely dissolve an 8mm gallstone with the use of phosphytidylcholine. My gallstone was located outside of the gallbladder but in the bile duct and I could have had avoided having my gallbladder removed altogether!

Do you still have your gallbladder? If you've had it removed, how many of these symptoms were you experiencing before you had it removed? Comment below!

All content of this blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this blog.

*Affiliate disclaimer: Heads up: My posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won't pay a penny more, but I earn a small commission that helps keep the lights on!

Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT Provision Nutrition & Wellness

Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT, is a licensed nutritionist specializing in empowering women to reclaim their health by cutting through misinformation and ditching the diet culture. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and is degreed in exercise science as well as a certified personal trainer. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she combines the best of both nutrition and exercise sciences to best help her clients reach their potential. To nourish is to flourish!


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