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Gallbladder problems cause constipation?

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For many years I have had "constipation" problems. Gastro Drs & cholonoscopies (3) find nothing. I have tried to make the point that I really do not feel it is "constipation" -- not hard impacted stools, etc. -- but that the problem is coming from up above my colon and that I just don't "manufacture" stools. But all therapies have just insisted I need to drink more water, take more fiber, laxatives, etc., which I do, but it just does not help. Recently I started researching this gallbladder thing and so much of it sounds like my problems, but I do not see "constipation" mentioned as a symptom often -- or as something that is relieved after gallbladder problems are dealt with. Could this be my problem?
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replied June 20th, 2012
Experienced User
Constipation is not a typical symptom of gallbladder problems. By far the most common problem is intense pain lasting several hours and caused by gallstones. Less common are the sort of things you've probably been reading about: under- or over-active gallbladders, Oddi's sphincter dysfunction, etc. Again, constipation is not high on the list of symptoms because anything that restricts the flow of bile into the colon when required to digest fat is likely to lead to diarrhoea.

Excess bile may sometimes cause constipation but you would be likely to find associated symptoms such as bile reflux and discoloured stools. Except in extreme cases, you will be able to manage this with a suitable diet and lifestyle.

If you don't "manufacture" stools then you aren't eating enough, possibly just not eating enough food containing indigestible fibre. A healthy balanced diet is going to produce sufficient waste that you will either pass it or get extremely ill. It isn't going to evaporate! Very low passage of waste through the intestine will almost inevitably cause constipation. Insufficient fibre will create a small volume of waste that will pass through very slowly, and the longer it stays the drier it will get. That's why it is helpful to drink enough, or even more than enough, if you're constipated. Taking extra fibre may also cause constipation, usually if you take dried forms such as some cereals, so make sure you take sufficient liquids to match the amount of fibre in your diet.

Constipation can also be caused by general lack of exercise, stress, some medicines (eg. antacids, opiate painkillers), depression (probably just related to other causes like stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise), atrophied bowel muscles (which can be caused by chronic constipation!), and then more serious things like cancer and MS. I'm assuming your doctors have ruled out the serious diseases, so they may be tempted to tag it as irritable bowel syndrome, not that it helps you much.
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