22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease - DrJockers.com

22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease


22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease:

Bile is an important digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and stored in a concentrated form within the gallbladder.  Bile’s main digestive responsibility is to emulsify fats and create fatty acids that can be readily absorbed and used by the body.  When the body has metabolic problems that lead to poor bile production and utilization it can cause serious health disturbances.

Unfortunately, the mainstream medical system has no solution for sluggish bile production which is also termed “biliary stasis.”  They just watch and wait until the gallbladder gets so log jammed with gall stones that it needs to be removed.  This process takes years and is completely avoidable.

A review study in the British Medical Journal found that 50% of patients who had a gallbladder surgery didn’t see improvement in their digestive health complaints (1).   This article discusses the functions of bile and symptoms of gallbladder disease.


4 Major Functions of Bile:

1) Fatty Acid Metabolism: Bile salts are critical for the emulsification of dietary fats into bioavailable fatty acids.   Without adequate bile production and utilization, one will have trouble digesting fats and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, K.

2) The Excretion of Waste Products: The liver’s job is to metabolize and deactivate toxins and bile grabs the toxins and helps bring them through the digestive tract and out in the stool.  Bile also helps to encourage the peristaltic action of the intestines which drives fecal matter through and out of the body.

3) Kill off Bad Microbes: The small intestine should normally not have a lot of bacteria in it and this is partly due to the presence of bile salts (2).  Salts are a natural preserving agent that reduce bacterial fermentation.  Poor bile production can lead to increased bacterial fermentation and the development of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Candida or parasitic overgrowth.

4) Blood Sugar Metabolism: Bile is needed to break down fatty acids for good fat metabolism.  Poor fat metabolism will cause blood sugar instability (3, 4).  Additionally, bile receptors FXR and TGR5 help to regulate lipid (fat) and carbohydrate metabolism as well as the inflammatory response (5, 6).  The bile acids then activate these receptors. 


22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease:

These symptoms indicate that your gall bladder may not be functioning well.  You may have several of these, rarely will you have all of them.

1) Nausea and Vomiting: Any disruption in the digestive tract can result in a feeling of nausea and vomiting at times.  This is a common issue with poor bile motility.

2) Fatty/Greasy Stools: Poor bile release leads to a failure to effectively emulsify fats in the diet and leads to undigested fat being excreted in the stool.

3) Pain Between the Shoulder Blades:  The liver and gallbladder themselves do not feel pain, but the nerves that innervate them also go into the muscles in the back.  In particular, the area just under the right shoulder blade.

4) Abdominal Pain: When the liver and gallbladder are inflamed, it can cause swelling, distension and pain throughout the abdominal region.  Sometimes the whole rib cage will feel sore or just “awkward,” due to the distension.

5) Chronic Gas and Bloating: Poor bile production will lead to poor bowel motility and microbial overgrowth and fermentation.  The fermentation process leads to gas production which can cause bloating and cramping.

6) Itchy Skin: This is also called pruritis.  When the gallbladder is obstructed it leads to a rise in a compound called autotaxin (ATX) and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) which causes the characteristic itching (7).

7) Yellowing of the Skin: Bilirubin is a yellow pigment and when the body is unable to metabolize bilirubin effectively, it ends up seeping into the tissues near the skin.  This is a condition called jaundice.

8) Headaches and Migraines: Gall bladder congestion can cause stress on the body and more gut based inflammation.  Both of these mechanisms can increase tension in the blood supply around the skull and brain and lead to headaches and migraines.

9) Constipation and Diarrhea: Poor bile motility will slow down the peristaltic action of the intestines resulting in a greater degree of constipation and often times alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation.

10) Light Colored Stools: The bilirubin in bile helps to create the classic browning of the stool.  If you are noticing lighter colored stools frequently it may be due to poor bile function.

11) Sexual Dysfunction: Sluggish biliary function can cause a decrease in overall sex hormone balance as the liver metabolizes the steroid hormones estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.   As a result, the individual may have issues with menstrual function, sexual function and fertility.

12) Bitter Taste in Mouth: This will often happen after meals and is due to bile regurgitation.

13) Fibromyalgia: This condition of chronic pain is often due in part to low hydrochloric acid and a sluggish liver and gallbladder.

14) Hypothyroidism: Individuals with hypothyroidism will typically have a sluggish biliary system.  It is hard to say what comes first, but they do feed into each other.

15) Loss of Hunger: A feeling of constant fullness is often a sign of a sluggish digestive system and that includes biliary stasis.

16) Dry Skin and Hair: Poor fatty acid absorption will result in poor fatty acid utilization and fat soluble vitamin deficiencies (A, E, D & K).  This can lead to dry, scaly skin and hair thinning and dryness among other problems.

17) Chemical Sensitivities: Individuals who have a greater reaction to chemicals are often plagued by a sluggish liver and biliary system.

18) History of Prescription, Over The Counter or Illegal Drug Use: These can all place undue stress on the liver and cause it to be overburdened, which also leads into biliary stasis.

19) Weight Loss Resistance: If we cannot metabolize fatty acids well than we cannot use the calories they provide which will then cause our blood sugar to be unstable.  Blood sugar instability will cause hormonal changes leading to weight loss resistance.

20) Skin Rashes: Sluggish bile leads to leaky gut syndrome.  When the gut is insulted it releases substance P which when elevated in the bloodstream can cause rash and eczema reactions in the skin.

21) Constant Runny Nose: This can indicate a need for bile salts.

22) IT Band Pain: The iliotibial (IT) band runs from the lateral side of the hip down to the lateral side of the knee.  This band can often be very tight and painful in individuals with gallbladder dysfunction.

Additionally, sluggish bile can lead to microbial overgrowth and infection.  If the gall bladder gets infected, one may notice pain in the right rib cage are and a fever.  Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions like kidney stones, heart attack and hepatitis.


Sources For This Article Include:

  1. Bateson MC. Gallbladder disease. BMJ : British Medical Journal. 1999;318(7200):1745-1748.
  2. Hofmann AF, Eckmann L. How bile acids confer gut mucosal protection against bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2006;103(12):4333-4334.
  3. Wei J, Qiu de K, Ma X. Bile acids and insulin resistance: implications for treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Dig Dis. 2009 May;10(2):85-90. PMID: 19426389
  4. Hylemon PB, Zhou H, Pandak WM, Ren S, Gil G, Dent P. Bile acids as regulatory molecules. J Lipid Res. 2009 Aug;50(8):1509-20. PMID: 19346331
  5. Fuchs M. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The Bile Acid-Activated Farnesoid X Receptor as an Emerging Treatment Target. Journal of Lipids. 2012;2012:934396.
  6. Li Y, Jadhav K, Zhang Y. Bile acid receptors in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 Dec 1;86(11):1517-24. PMID: 23988487
  7. Serum autotaxin is increased in pruritus of cholestasis, but not of other origin, and responds to therapeutic interventions Link Here


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41 Responses to 22 Symptoms of GallBladder Disease

  1. Cheryl M. February 10, 2016 at 12:52 am #

    My gall bladder was removed 5 years ago and I continue to have ALL of these symptoms that have grown progressively worse. I also have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and I’m receiving injections for pain between my shoulder blades. My digestion is in chaos. I suffer from migraines that are occasionally accompanied by episodes of vomiting for days, leaving me weak and shaky. My gastroenterologist performed an endoscopy and found my stomach was peppered with ulcers. He prescribed a proton pump inhibitor that has not helped with the pain at all, but did stop the acid reflux I was experiencing. Since my gall bladder has been removed, should I be looking at my liver or spleen?

    • Jalane Hancock September 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

      it is possible for the bile duct to fill up with stones AFTER a gall bladder removal

    • Laura October 19, 2017 at 9:34 am #

      If you have ulcers, have you ever been tested for H.Pylori?????
      It’s a bacteria that attaches itself to your stomach lining and causes ulcers!
      If you test positive, a round of antibiotics is what will kill it.
      Good luck!

  2. Dr. Jockers February 10, 2016 at 5:24 am #

    This is really unfortunate Cheryl. You have gotten very poor medical treatment. The VERY FIRST thing you should do is get your stomach acid right. I would advise following the directions in this article: http://drjockers.com/10-ways-to-improve-stomach-acid-levels/

    • Dede Tudor February 23, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      God Bless You, Dr. Jockers for being here to help reverse the years of abuse and the medical profession . To Cheryl, you poor dear soul. Please listen to him.

  3. Jen March 9, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    I’m blown away right now reading this article. I strongly have every single symptom, EXCEPT jaundice. I’ve endured this for years now, thinking I had every disease under the sun. I am unwell I don’t want to have my gallbladder removed if I don’t have to. I’d like to try to resolve this on my own with cleanses, healing diet. I’m absolutely miserable. I know I must be deficient in major vitimins and minerals, I feel it. I cannot digest anything at this point. I’m starting a liquid diet.

    • Dr David Jockers March 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

      I am so sorry to hear about this Jen!!! Yes, a liquid diet for a period of time can be one of the best things for someone dealing with serious digestive disorders. Be sure to keep out things like dairy, grains, corn, peanuts, soy, eggs, vegetable oils, etc.

      Use coconut milk, berries, high quality protein powder and herbs like cinnamon. Also, doing green juicing can be huge.

  4. Laurie April 6, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    There is also a connection in some way to fat soluble vitamin deficiencies. Check your symptoms against low D, A and E. I also had all of the symptoms of A and E, D deficiency in addition to the ones above because of nutrition deficiencies doctors never checked. I’m wondering how to get the fat soluble nutrients into the cells if the immune system is reacting to phospholipids. I am thinking ketogenic diet and fat soluble antioxidants may help bypass digestion or a few may get through the antibodies to begin to heal.

    • Dr. Jockers April 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

      Oh yes Laurie, most people that have a liver/gallbladder problem will have a problem with fat soluble vitamins. It may be very tough for them to increase their vitamin D levels as well.

  5. Renee April 9, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    How long should you be on a liquid diet to try to save the gallbladder

    • Dr. Jockers May 19, 2016 at 7:25 am #

      As long as it takes Renee! Good to start with a 3-day, but you could do this for 21 days or even a month.

      • Tarey June 23, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

        Can you give an example of a good liquid diet for a few days? There’s only so much water and chicken broth one can stand! I am shocked at this list..I am in misery with my abdominal pain. Severe constipation and nothing works. I am now on linzess and it helped a little for about 3 weeks now I am right back to square one. I had a CT scan in the ER an they found gallstones. I’m supposed to see a surgeon next week to be evaluated. I had NO idea the gallbladder affects so many things. I have the headaches and very frequently nauseous some vomiting. Bloated. Sooo much pain o. The left side the rib cage the mid abdominal area..the right side..the pain I keep going g in my back I thought was just muscle pain at first. I have fibromyalgia and can’t lose weight for nothin!

  6. Dr. Mark Fraiman October 12, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    Thank you for this exhaustive list of symptoms related to gallbladder disease. It is so important that people understand the related symptoms so that if they feel they are experiencing a gallbladder attack they get the right help from the right physician. Unfortunately, sometimes the symptoms are so close to those of other diseases that it can be difficult to self-diagnose. That’s why being aware of your body and having a physician dedicated to your health can make all the difference in your quality of life.

    • Dr. Jockers October 12, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      Very good Dr Mark, very true that these conditions can be due to a number of different conditions so it is challenging to self-diagnose. But this should hopefully clue in the reader as to what may be going on.

  7. Nicole March 23, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    Hello! I feel so thankful to see this article. It addresses so many of the symptoms I have that are accompanying my pain in the gallbladder area; Pain in my hip, runny noes, est. Thank you! That do you recommend for a treatment plan?

    • Dr. Jockers March 24, 2017 at 5:46 am #

      Sorry to hear about your challenges Nicole. So glad to hear you found this helpful!

  8. Barbara May 4, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

    I am so glad I found this article! I had no idea that the IT band pain I was feeling had anything to do with my gallbladder. And the runny nose as well! For the past four days I have been having gallbladder attacks. I am aware that there are small gallstones and a polyps in my gallbladder that has grown 1 cm since last year. This is all been diagnosed through an ultrasound. I do believe in functional medicine and see a conventional doctor and a naturopathic doctor as well, so I am a firm believer in juicing, supplements, cleansing and many other natural ways to heal the body. I also have autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary Cirrohsis but I am going to take this advice and try to stop these gallbladder symptoms! Thank you for your article!

  9. Zeina July 13, 2017 at 8:02 am #

    Where on your site does it show how to deal with gallbladder problems?
    Im very interested in a treatment for my severe pain in upper right abdomen. Dr wants to do more testing, but dragging his feet, I don’t have an appt for 3 weeks. I’m afraid he’ll want to remove gallbladder, I would like to try a to heal naturally, but don’t know where to start.
    Thank you for the great article.

  10. Estela Neiabuer July 15, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    My daughter is 16 and started to have symptoms of dizziness, nausea, pain after eating, belching, alternating diarrhea with constipation. She has been seen by multiple doctors and had blood, urine, breath, stool, ultrasound and hida scan tests. All came back normal. Doctors diagnosis had range from ulcer, IBS, to gastritis. She lost 20lbs in a matter of weeks after all this started. This began during last thanksgiving break and after eating a burger. She got a nauseous and hell got loose after that. I suspect that it’s her gallbladder because I had similar symptoms such as belching and dizziness. Both of my parents and my brother had their gallbladder removed. My younger sister had many attacks in the past and doctors wanted it out. I just had mine taken out last week. It was 93% full of stones and scarred. Would it be possible that my daughter can have gallbladder problems even if the tests don’t show it? Also I must mention at the time of my daughter’s birth, she had jaundice and low sugar. After that was fixed and when she started solids she struggled for a long time with severe constipation.

    • Dr. Jockers July 20, 2017 at 8:51 am #

      Hey Estela, Sorry to hear about these issues!

      Have you read the information in this article?: http://drjockers.com/functional-testing-for-gallbladder-health/
      In the meantime, you can start following some of these strategies: http://drjockers.com/25-ways-to-improve-gallbladder-health/

      If you are interested in doing some functional lab work, email nutrition@drjockers.com and we can get that going for you!


    • Beth Reich October 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

      My daughter experienced the very same symptoms as you mentioned. Her test also came back negative. Doctors came up with the same that you mentioned. She tried every diet and cleanse that they suggested. She had numerous test and none of them returned positive. After almost a years of pain and suffering and a loss of 35 pounds, a surgeon said he felt sure it was her gallbladder because of all the classic symptoms. But because all of her test were negative the insurance companies don’t want to cover the removal of the gallbladder. The surgeon recommended exploratory surgery in which he would remove her gallbladder and her appendix. That is what she did and she immediately started to improve. And in a few months she had gained her weight back and has not suffered with any of the previous symptoms. He told us that he had seen numerous people with gallbladder problems where the test came back within normal ranges but upon the removal of it they were better. I would also note that she did not have any gallstones. Hope this helps you and your daughter if you have not yet resolved her problems. I don’t usually commend on websites but this was like I was reading about my daughter’s problem in details!!!
      Beth from Alabama

  11. Gina Bertolini July 28, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    I have all the symptoms except jaundice and my GI says I have to have my gallbladder removed. Do they do laparoscopic surgery to
    Remove the gallbladder?

    • Dr. Jockers July 28, 2017 at 11:02 am #

      Hey Gina, sorry to hear about this! To my understanding that is the current protocol that is commonly used.

  12. Alex September 17, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

    Hello Dr. Jokers. I have been miserable for the last two years. It started with me going to the hospital on the middle of the night with 140 bears per minute. The hospital found nothing. Done all the heart terting. MRI s and they found nothing. I belch for hours at a time at night mostly. I feel like I am going to pass out right before I belch. I get chills. Runny nose headache and o have become very sore native to the sun. Not on my face or arms but in aras that don’t get the sun alike my feet. And the pain is scrutiating. I’ve tried to heal my gut. But I am about to gubernatorial up and just have the gall bladder removed. I had the huda scan with cck and went onto convulsions when they injected the cck. The test had me at, 21% ejection ratio. Please help.

    • Dr. Jockers September 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

      Hey Alex, this sounds like it could be a digestive issue, possibly an infection. In reality, it could be a number of things. I would reccomend you get with one of our health coaches to complete some functional lab work so we can get to the bottom of this!

  13. Lisa October 8, 2017 at 5:15 am #

    Thank you so much for this information. I have been sick constantly for 3 months. I have seen my PCP and she run some test and found one gallstone she does not think this is what is making me so sick. I have all the symptoms accept the jaundice. I have an appointment next week to see a surgeon but now I have mixed emotions about keeping that appointment is it going to make me worse if it’s removed? The good Lord put it there for a reason. I also have H Pylori could that be the issue? Docs dont think so.

    • Dr. Jockers October 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

      Hey Lisa,

      If the stone is of immediate concern then it may be helpful to have it removed, however it may better suite you long-term if you avoid having your gallbladder removed and really focus on gallbladder healing strategies here: http://drjockers.com/25-ways-to-improve-gallbladder-health/

      You may find it helpful working with one of our health coaches!

  14. Lisa October 11, 2017 at 3:29 am #

    Thank you Dr.Jockers !!! I appreciate the information. It’s nice to get some useful information without having to pay a copay. God bless you!

  15. Brenda October 17, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

    After a year with pain and labeled in hospital.and st as a pill seeker i had gallbladder removed I have 8 incisions and I’m still in pain as well as everything i eat and drink goes write threw me with diapers and mucus. I went back to emergency room as per dr request and thing still come back normal i do have an enlarged liver with a small cyst i am getting chest and upper left shoulder pain and heart palpation when I’m in pain was told by doctor to see pain management i have had several surgery like diverticulitis and two hernia repair before gallbladder removal this year the pain is so bad it hurts my back in middle please give advice

  16. Brenda October 17, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

    I have also lost so much weight i am diabetic which I see my sugar under control since surgery was told by doctor that my sugar was not controlled because of my eating when i barley eat i eat no sugar i am going crazy thinking is it just in my head or am I going crazy . I’m even afraid to even go to emergency room or doctors office when not feeling good cause I feel they talk behind my back thinking I’m looking for pain medication when all I want is for this to go away i was also dignoised with ibs and nothing I’m frustrated with this please help

  17. Shelley October 19, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    I have around 20 of these symptoms but every doctor I see thinks my symptoms don’t match gallbladder disease. I just don’t get it! My main symptom is very painful and tight abdominal distention that never goes away. I’ve had so many tests and the only one that was abnormal was my HIDA Scan. My EF was 0%. I cant find a surgeon who wants to take my gallbladder out… they all think I have IBS, even though I’ve tried 3 IBS medications and the IBS diet.

    My doctor has ruled out IBS, SIBO, h. Pylori, parasites, candida, and anything that can be seen on ultrasounds and other imaging.

    • Dr. Jockers October 19, 2017 at 11:13 pm #

      So sorry to hear about this Shelley! Have you had any functional lab work done?

      • Shelley October 21, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

        I’m not sure exactly what functional labs are. I googled it and if I found the right thing it looks like gluten intolerance and other food allergies? I have been gluten free for 10 years, dairy free for several months, and am following a low fodmap diet.

        • Dr. Jockers October 22, 2017 at 11:19 am #

          Those are some examples but there are a variety of these tests: http://drjockers.com/lab-testing/

          These look for specific markers that give helpful insight into why your body is not functioning at an optimal level. In my experience these can often find signs of issues that are commonly overlooked elsewhere, so just a suggestion. You can email michael@drjockers.com if you have any questions about these!

  18. Heather October 28, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    I have all this but was only jaundiced at birth. Been sick for almost 4 years. 2014 diagnosed with esophageal dysmotility, 2015 gastropariesis and colon inertia, 2016 gallstones and 2017 POTS and small fiber neuropathy. I cannot do most diets,supplements or medicines. My swallow is almost non existent. Saw internist and he wouldn’t remove gallbladder for fear of making me worse. Im scared and exhausted and dont know how to get even a little better. Any thoughts would be very appreciated.

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