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Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

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Old 04-07-2005, 09:48 PM   #1
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Wintergarden HB User
Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

Hello everyone. I'm very glad to have found this board, and I've been reading all the posts with great interest. Please forgive me if I touch on some redundant topics, as I'm not feeling too well and subsequently not too sharp in my thinking!

I've been having symptoms since late February, getting steadily worse until things became really bad by mid-March. I have tremendous pressure in my stomach and esophagus with tons of burping, which does not relieve the pressure. The symptoms will get bad whether I eat or not. The only thing that sometimes helps is sitting very still for long periods of time. As soon as I get up and move around, it gets very bad. The thing that scares me most, sometimes when I've been moving around and the pressure starts moving upward and I'll get one or more heart palpitations. When I first went to a doctor to be seen for this, I had an EKG and also some impromptu stress testing (the doc hooked me up to the "crash cart" and had me do a variety of exercises while he watched my heart). All was normal, so I was told my heart is probably okay. To me, there's an obvious connection between the stomach/esophagus pressure and the heart palps, but from all I've read, it seems many doctors aren't too willing to acknowledge this. I can also get short of breath when I'm feeling lots of pressure - another really fun symptom. I've had asthma in the past, so I know what that feels like and this is different - it feels like something is constricting my lungs. If I can burp a lot, I can breath again.

I don't have much classic heartburn, but I do have an occasional burning sensation in my stomach and globus sensation (lump in the throat), so I was written off as a GERD case and given Nexium, which the first doc said would probably take it all away. Oh, I had such high hopes! Unfortuntately, this is my sixth day on Nexium and I have not noticed any improvement. I then saw my regular doctor, who had been away when my troubles began. She says she really thinks it's gallbladder, because of my history of significant weight loss and a strong family history. I have my ultrasound tomorrow, and I'm just counting the hours. It's so weird to be hoping for a serious problem to show up, in hopes that I'll get sent to surgery sooner. If it's very much of a wait, I don't know how I'm going to make it. *whimper*

Here's what I don't understand. By what mechanism would a diseased gallbladder cause my symptoms? (pressure and bloating, which gets worse with activity) If it truly is my gallbladder, wouldn't I get some relief by *not* eating? (my symptoms get pretty bad on an empty stomach). Does anyone know exactly what is happening to create the pressure? I understand if a stone is blocking something, you have pain, but that's not what I have. Is it something to do with bile? Arrgh, I'm just so mystified.

I have no tenderness anywhere in my abdomen, just extreme pressure and discomfort. I think I was negative on my h.pylori test (if I understood the nurse correctly). Is there any hope that the Nexium may start to help while I wait for my ultrasound results, and then presumably, surgery? Is there anything I can do to feel better in the meantime? I've been living on dry toast, applesauce, bananas and water, so I'm not sure how much more I can do, diet-wise. I've been sitting so much to try and keep the symptoms from getting worse, I'm afraid I'm going to get a blod clot or something. (prior to this problem, I was exercising vigorously everyday)

Because of my problems with anxiety over all this (I really can't function), my doc gave me a short term prescription of Xanax. I'm trying not to take it, because I fear addiction, but I've already taken three pills. I think I may need it just to get me through the ultrasound and what's to come, especially if I'm going to feel so uncomfortable all the time. I felt nothing much with the first pill, just a lot of yawning. Then I took the second pill (.25mg) and began to notice some relaxation (I stopped trembling), but it certainly wasn't the little miracle worker I expected it to be. It's really when I feel the heart sensations that my anxiety goes into high gear, which probably makes the symptoms worse. I've noticed that any emotional upset has an exacerbating effect - have you all noticed that your emotions effect your digestive symptoms?

Anyway, sorry for the long-winded post. Just wondering if any of you gallbladder survivors can relate to my experience at all? Even if you have no advice to offer, thanks for listening!!

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Old 04-08-2005, 06:00 AM   #2
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StaciL320 HB User
Re: Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

Hi. I can tell you from experience that there is no typical gall bladder symptoms in some cases. I was one of those cases. I never got what most people refer to as a full blown gall bladder attack. I was gassy a lot, felt nauseous, had the lump in the throat feeling and a lot of the other symptoms you described. I also felt very uncomfortable when I pushed in on the area where my gall bladder was, but if I didn't push in on the area, in didn't hurt. I also had a shortness of breath and thought it was my heart, but I found out it wasn't. I would sometimes feel as if I just couldn't breath right and my chest would hurt a lot. This would all happen even if I ate nothing, so it got to the point where I was just living on crackers and breadsticks for a while. During that time period I lost 25 pounds and was convinced I had cancer with all these unexplained symptoms and weight loss. I finally went to the doctor and he ordered a sonogram and it was discovered that I had stones and my gall bladder was removed. By the way, I lived on xanax during that time period because of my high anxiety over the situation. I would basically take them every few hours and just try to sleep my misery away. I never did get addicted to them because I didn't take them for so long, but they actually helped keep me semi calm during all of this.

Now, here it is over two years later after my gall bladder has been removed and I still suffer from certain symptoms, except for the discomfort I used to have when I pressed in where my gall bladder was. Keep in mind that just because you have your gall bladder out doesn't mean every symptom will go away since there could be other GI problems going on as well. I have regained the weight, which is something I am not happy about, but at least I am not sitting here thinking I have some kind of terminal disease like I was when I lost the weight.

It is possible that your gall bladder is to blame for a lot of your symptoms, but I can tell you that in my case it was that and a lot of other things going on. Even so, if you have stones, you should have your gall bladder removed, because from what I hear a gall bladder attack is very painful and not something you want to experience.

Old 04-08-2005, 08:24 AM   #3
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tony1111 HB User
Re: Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

I can relate to most of your symptoms. I am on zantac. i get alot of burning in the gut and a feeling of acid with reflux into the mouth at times, i get palpitations and have had them for over a year but the ecg was normal, barium meal was normal in the stomach and throat, i get the globus feeling and difficulty swallowing, alot of gas in stomach with cramp and fullness. Excercise or eating seems to make the problem worse and I am usually fine when I am laying flat in bed.

I did think about bladder problems and possibly a serious illness like cancer and ulcers.

The doctor thinks I have a form of IBS ( you know the condition where thet don't know what is happing so they label it IBS ). But he may be right.

Best wishes


Old 04-08-2005, 11:56 AM   #4
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Wintergarden HB User
Re: Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

Thank you so much for your replies, Tony and Staci. They are particularly interesting to me now, since last night my symptoms got so much worse I wound up in the ER. I still can't believe it - very surreal. I couldn't breathe (they said I was hyperventilating) and the pressure was just horrible, and the heart palpitations too, which of course, never show up on any ECG. I immediately started babbling about my gallbladder, since my doc was so sure that's what it was, and they hustled me off for an ultrasound. I could not have been more shocked when the ER doc came in and said NO GALLSTONES. Here I had been _dreaming_ of a simple surgery to put everything to rights, but now I see it will not be so simple.

I am so depressed...I'm uncomfortable all the time and feel so helpless. The ER referred me to a specialist who can't see me till the 25th. That seems like an eternity from now...and who's to say he'll have any answers. Guess I should get this pessimistic so soon, since it's not like I've had all the tests yet. I was just SO SURE it was my gallbladder. Could it still be my gallbladder, I wonder? I've read that gallbladder disease without stones causes a lot of pain, and that's not what I have.

Tony, I'm also usually better when lying flat in bed - contrary to the common reflux wisdom, and they're still saying I have reflux. I'm still so, so scared of the heart palps. Before this all started, I was exercising vigorously everyday, and now I just sit like a lump. Fitness meant a lot to me, and now it's all slipping through my fingers. There is NO WAY I can exercise like this...heck, I can't even do simple household tasks at the moment. I just have to stay very still.

Did either of you get any relief from your symptoms? I hope I'm not heading for the IBS default diagnosis too - is there any help for that?

Old 04-08-2005, 07:00 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 195
StaciL320 HB User
Re: Atypical Gallbladder Symptoms??

Hi again. I am sorry the answer to your problems wasn't found through the sonogram. I can tell you a few things that may help. First of all, just because no stones were found doesn't mean your gall bladder isn't the problem. I had read numerous letters from people who had gall bladders that weren't functioning properly and found this out through other tests such as a hida scan? I am not sure what the test is all about, but it determines how well the gall bladder is functioning even if there are no stones.

The other possiblity is it isn't your gall bladder at all, but some other kind of GI problem like acid reflux or gastritis. It is also possible that you really do have IBS. That's what I was told I have even though none of the GI tests were done. I think when they don't know what is causing the symptoms they just say it is IBS, but in reality IBS is a disease of elmination, meaning other causes have to be ruled out first and if nothing is found it is labeled as being IBS.

Today I didn't feel well at all and had terrible gas and cramps and was in the store and had to run home to get to a bathroom. Of course I had a panic attack from the pain but took a xanax and calmed down. It really does seem like it is IBS, but who knows for sure? I had my gall bladder out and still have problems, so maybe I really should be seeing a GI specialist myself.

Just try not to get too discouraged since I am sure there are answers to your problems, even if it make take a little while to figure out what exactly is wrong. There are lots of us that have these kind of GI problems, so feel better in knowing you are totally not alone and we can all relate to you and what you are feeling.

Feel better.


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