Bile Reflux Symptoms
How do you really know if you have bile reflux?
There are several symptoms that accompany this painful health condition, and recognizing them can be your first step toward finding a solution.
In most cases, the symptoms of bile reflux are quite similar to those of acid reflux, so once you have narrowed the problem down, you may still need a doctor to help uncover which condition you’re dealing with.
In many cases, patients are actually suffering from both at the same time!
Some Causes of Bile Reflux
While bile reflux can happen to just about anyone, there are some situations that make certain people more likely to experience the problem.
For example, if you have had gastric surgery for weight loss or other purposes, you may be at higher risk than those who have not. This is because gastric surgery can cause damage to the pyloric valve. When the pyloric valve does not close all the way, bile can make its way into the stomach causing irritation. For the same reason, gallbladder surgery can also cause bile reflux symptoms.
Those who suffer from peptic ulcers can also be at risk for bile reflux. In this case, the ulcer can actually block the pyloric valve. The result is that the valve doesn’t allow stomach contents to empty as quickly as they should, creating pressure that then forces bile and other acids up into the esophagus.
The clearest symptom that differentiates bile reflux from acid reflux is considerable pain in the upper abdomen. Acid reflux causes stomach acids to back up, or reflux, into the esophagus; but bile reflux leads to bile backing up into the stomach itself. This can cause significant pain and burning in the upper abdomen. Of course, if you have acid reflux as well, these fluids can also make their way into the esophagus.
There are several symptoms of bile reflux that also indicate acid reflux, so you may need a doctor to help determine if you are dealing with one or both issues.
- Heartburn – This is the most common complaint when it comes to bile reflux and acid reflux. As the fluids make their way into the esophagus, they cause a burning sensation. This pain can be so severe that people actually fear they are experiencing a heart attack. Along with the pain, you may notice a sour taste in your mouth.
- Nausea – When bile and acids back up, they leave your stomach unsettled and irritated. Many times this leads to the feeling like you need to vomit.
- Vomiting – If the nausea is so bad that it actually causes you to vomit, this can definitely be a symptom of bile reflux. The vomit itself will include green-yellow bile, causing additional burning and discomfort.
- Reactions to foods with even a small amount of fat – The release of bile is triggered by the intake of fats, as it’s used in their digestion. If fats are causing you increased heartburn, you may be experiencing a bile reflux symptom.
- Coughing or hoarseness – Bile and stomach acids are very hard on the esophagus and can leave your throat raw and sore. An ongoing cough or partial loss of voice is a clue that your situation is more serious than the occasional heartburn.
- Unintended weight loss – All of the symptoms mentioned can certainly affect your body’s ability to take in and properly utilize your food. If you are experiencing weight loss that is unintentional, it can be another symptom of bile reflux.
Bile reflux can lead to other, even more dangerous health issues, so it goes beyond simple discomfort and should be evaluated for treatment.