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What is the Connection Between the Gallbladder and Bloating?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The main connection between the gallbladder and bloating is that many gallbladder disorders cause bloating and abdominal discomfort as a primary symptom. These can include gallstones, gallbladder disease, and very rarely, cancer. Bloating comes as a result of poor or slow digestion, and the gallbladder is an organ which helps aid in digestion. Therefore, if the gallbladder malfunctions, the digestive tract often fails to work properly.

Most commonly, gallstones are the cause for pain in the gallbladder and bloating. The gallbladder is a small organ which stores bile produced by the liver. This bile is secreted into the digestive tract and helps the small intestines break down food effectively. Stones and other issues can prevent bile from being secreted properly, slowing down digestion and often leading to bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, and gas. Many times the stones must be removed via surgery.

Sometimes, problems with the gallbladder, and bloating, along with other digestive issues, can continue after gallstones are removed. There are special diets for this problem to make digestion easier, but in many cases the gallbladder must be removed entirely. This is a fairly routine surgery, but requires a stay in the hospital for recovery. After removal, the patient is usually required to eat a restrictive diet until the body adjusts. This usually entails restricting most fats and eating easy to digest foods.

Cancer of the gallbladder and bloating may also be related, although this is rarer than gallstones. Bloat can come as a result of slowed digestion as with stones, or due to tumor growth pushing on surrounding tissues. Surgery is often required to remove the tumor, and is generally followed by chemotherapy or radiation if cancer cells are still present.

Patients with gallbladder disorders and discomfort may try special diets before opting for removal. Natural remedies may also be beneficial for some, depending on the quantity and size of stones. In some cases, gallstones may go away on their own if they are small and are not causing extreme pain. Other times, complications other than gastrointestinal upset can occur, and may include an increase in liver enzymes or liver stones.

Any bloating or abdominal pain that does not go away with proper diet, exercise, and fluid intake; or any pain that is severe should be evaluated by a health care professional. Gallstone related pain often occurs in the upper portion of the abdomen on the right side, although bloating can occur in any area of the digestive tract. Gallstones are not usually serious, but they may cause complications if left untreated.

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Discussion Comments

By honeybees — On Aug 09, 2012

I will probably need to have my gallbladder removed at some point. I get a gallbladder attack every so often, but the pain has never been extremely severe, and usually goes away within a few hours.

I can tell when one is coming on because I have stomach pain and bloating that goes along with this. My clothes feel really tight around my stomach because of the bloating, and loose clothing is the only thing I can wear when this happens.

I had a doctor friend tell me to drink a little bit of lemon juice and honey in hot water every day. She said this would help cleanse the gallbladder and get rid of the sludge that is building up. I have tried this a few times, but think it works best if you do it every day, not just when you are having symptoms.

By sunshined — On Aug 08, 2012
@LisaLou-- I have had painful gallstones, and eventually had my gallbladder taken out. It took awhile for my body to adjust to this, and I was really careful about what I ate for a long time.

Most of the foods that would aggravate this weren't good for me anyway, so this was one way I could make better choices about the type of food I was eating.

If I eat something that is really greasy, I will still get some abdominal pain and bloating. Because I know what causes it, I don't worry too much about it, and try to avoid that food in the future.

Even though this pain is uncomfortable, it is nothing like it was before I had my gallbladder removed.

By LisaLou — On Aug 08, 2012

I never really knew specifically what the gallbladder did. I know a lot of people who have had theirs removed, and it seems like they can function without any problems.

Since the gallbladder is so closely connected with digestion, is it possible to get digestive abdominal pain and bloating even after it has been removed?

By Mykol — On Aug 07, 2012

I have a history of stomach pain and bloating, but they have never found any gallstones when they did testing. When I went to the doctor for these symptoms, they did an ultrasound and took blood work, but all the tests looked OK.

One of the first things the doctor asked me was if I still had my gallbladder. This must be one of the first things they question when someone comes in with abdominal pain like this.

After they ran more tests, they determined my symptoms were from gastritis and started me on some medication.

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