What Exactly Is Bile Reflux?

What Exactly Is Bile Reflux?

Ok, let’s get to the basics of what bile reflux actually is. At this point, you have probably already visited your local physician and you have officially been diagnosed with bile reflux.

Now you are wondering, WHAT exactly is it anyway?

Is it like regular acid reflux? Many people tend to think so, but it isn’t. The main component in bile reflux is obviously…bile.

Bile is a fluid that your body uses to digest its food, and when someone suffers from bile reflux, they are dealing with a painful situation in which this liquid backs up from the small intestine into the stomach and/or esophagus.  Many of us are familiar with the similar and often coexisting issue of acid reflux.  In that case, stomach acids are able to back up into the esophagus.

Bile reflux is not only very uncomfortable, but it can also lead to severe medical problems.  The digestive fluid irritates the stomach, leading to inflammation.  It also causes damage to the lining of the esophagus to become inflamed and can potentially lead to esophageal cancer.  Bile reflux and acid reflux can both lead to these complications.  Unlike acid reflux, however, bile reflux is generally harder to control through simple lifestyle changes.

Results of bile reflux can include:

  • Gastritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Esophageal damage (stricture, Barrett’s esophagus)
  • Cancers

With bile reflux and acid reflux having such similar symptoms and complications to acid reflux, it can be pretty difficult to which is causing your pain and discomfort.  Most people realize there’s a problem at all because they experience a significant amount of heartburn, a sensation of burning in the throat or chest that often includes a bad taste in your mouth.  Bile reflux may have the additional symptom of causing upper abdominal pain.

Typical bile reflux symptoms:

  • Frequent heartburn
  • Severe upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting bile
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing or hoarseness