Right side pain, burning, burping and reflux - gallbladder?

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Hi all,

I’m looking for any thoughts/ advice on some stomach issues I’ve been having recently as I’m wondering if it could be a gallbladder issue. I’m female, 29, on the pill, normal weight with a healthy diet.

Four months ago, seemingly out of the blue, I developed a range of symptoms which have been making me feel really rubbish. I’ve been keeping a food diary but can’t see much of a pattern. The only things I know for sure have made me feel particularly bad were chocolate and a cooked English breakfast. Bread also seems a bit dodgy.



-       Pain under my right ribs. The pain comes and goes. Normally it’s a dull ache or a burning sensation. Occasionally I get sharp pains there too. Generally I would describe the pain as mild to moderate – nothing agonising. The bottom of my right ribs feel bruised when touched and sometimes the pain goes through to my back

-       Heartburn, mainly on the right side of my chest but sometimes all over. Sometimes the burning feeling can feel slightly itchy as well.

-       A sensation of vapour coming up from my stomach

-       Lots of gas and burping. My tummy has been making lots of gurgling noises – much more than usual

-       Bitter taste in mouth and sometimes a very dry throat

-       Feeling tired

-       Occasionally - feeling sick after eating. I’ve never actually been sick though.

-       Occasionally - sore burning throat and lump in throat sensation

The symptoms do vary – I seem to have flare ups where I feel particularly awful and once it’s been set off I seem to feel bad for a few days. There haven’t been any days when I’ve felt completely right since the whole thing started though.

Treatment/ tests to date

-       40mg Esomeprazole. This helps the heartburn a bit I think but the other symptoms do not improve

-       Ultrasound – normal.

-       Blood tests – full blood count and other tests all came back normal

-       Endoscopy – came back normal with no sign of acid reflux

-       Manometry and 24 hour pH monitoring – I haven’t had my consultation to discuss the results in full yet but apparently ‘there is evidence to suggest my oesophagus doesn’t contract normally.’

My next consultation isn’t until October and I’m starting to feel a bit desperate as I’m fed up feeling so horrible.

Do you think this could be a gallbladder issue despite the clear ultrasound? The fact that I have the esophagus problem could explain the vapour sensation I've been getting, but I don't see how it could be causing the right side pain.

Grateful for any advice!

0 likes, 35 replies

35 Replies

  • Posted

    I would absolutely push for a gastrointestinal specialist. I was lucky that stones showed uo on my scan although was not very clear. There was only one abnormal bloods for me but they knew at this point there were stones so only took blood for specific testing.if you've read through some forums lots of people have had no problems with bloods and nothing on scans but have ended up having their gall bladders removed. My issue was pain on the upper right and having it radiate into my back some attacks wiped me out for days then on a particularly bad occasion in was peeing bright orange which I was told I should have gone to a and e for as this is signs of jaundice . Keep pushing as a lot of your symptoms are quite common in gall bladder issues. GPS generally aren't uo to scratch on digestive issues as they have a broad knowledge but nothing specialised. I would ask for a referral to check

  • Posted

    Hi Luci,

    Thanks for the excellent summary.  It could very well be your gallbladder acting up.  Even if you don't have gallstones.  Sometimes they malfunction. A CT scan might pick up any gallstones, and ultrasounds don't always pick up small stones and sludge.

    Ask for a referral to a gastroenterologist who should know more about how to diagnose and treat you! xx

  • Posted

    The ultrasound does not measure the function of your gallbladder. Ask your doctor for a hida scan test. It is done at a hospital. The test if 2 hours long. That may be your next option. Hope this helps.
  • Posted

    The hida scan is probably the next test they need to do on you. Your GI can set this up for you. Hope this helps. It test the function of the gallbladder
  • Posted

    Sorry to hear your problems.

    Ultrasound doesn't always show up the presence of gallstones especially if they're small or there is biliary sludge, so it's not conclusive.

    It's possible not to have gallstones yet have similar symptoms due to a malfunctioning gallbladder. You need to be referred for a HIDA scan and referred to a gastrogy department. 

    Meanwhile, eat a low fat diet: no baked goods except bread, no spicy foods, avoid alcohol, eat low or 0% dairy and do not overload the stomach.

    Have you had any pain in right shoulder? Or diarrhoea straight after eating?

    You feel generally unwell and tired. I suffered night sweats long before I had any pain and also lost my appetite. The pain can be central as well as right sided or in right shoulder blade and is debilitating. I could not eat or sleep during attacks that sometimes lasted three or four days. I was not sick but had nausea and frequent bouts of diarrhoea. It felt as though my stomach would burst even though I'd not had a heavy meal.

  • Posted

    Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to reply.

    I saw my consultant yesterday and apparently I have a problem with my oesophagus not draining liquids normally... However he admitted this probably wouldn't explain the belching/ right side pain. He doesn't think it's my gallbladder, so I'm now investigating the possibility of food intolerances.

  • Posted

    Hi I'm due to have my gall bladder out next week.. most of the symptoms your talking about are very similar.. all blood tests came back clear. It was an ultrasound which showed up the gallstones .

    • Posted

      Good luck for your op! I did have an ultrasound but it came back clear. The consultant has requested another to double check but seemed confident it wasn't a gallbladder issue. I kind of wish it was really as at least there would be a fix!

    • Posted

      I had 3 ultrasounds (one was GP referral for gallbladder symptoms then the others were after hospital admissions 5 weeks apart), one showed small stones, the next a few weeks later they couldn’t see any but gallbladder was very distended, then the third they think they saw small stones. The surgeon wasn’t convinced it was the gallbladder so sent me for a HIDA scan. This showed my gallbladder wasn’t functioning as well as it should. 3 weeks later I ended up back in hospital as an emergency with cholecystitis and got my gallbladder out 6 days later. 

      I was convinced it was my gallbladder causing all the issues but one surgeon wasn’t and he was the one on call for the week. The next Monday a different one came in and agreed with me and took it out. Had constant nausea and extreme pain for 6 weeks between the 2 hospital admissions. You know your own body! Hope you get answers soon xx

    • Posted

      Thanks for sharing your experience! It's interesting that the ultrasounds showed different things each time... Also concerning that there can be so many different opinions.. perhaps I should see what someone else thinks.

    • Posted

      Ask for a second opinion? Ultrasounds do vary. Trapped wind can mask the presence of gallstones, making it difficult for the ultrasonographer to ‘see’ properly.
    • Posted

      Hi Lucy I've had something similar. You say you are on the pill. I'd guess your oestrogen levels may have caused oestrogen dominance which is affecting the proper functioning of your gallbladder. Get an oestrogen test done and if it's abnormally high consider coming off the pill. You might also want to avoid soy products eg Tofu because these can cause oestrogen dominance in some women (it is found in alot of stuff including some bread and chocolate). It could be that a combination of the pill and soy (if you eat it) has created a perfect storm. The bitter taste in your mouth usually points to liver stagnation, so it does sound as if the digestion is struggling. Investigate some homoeopathic remedies (**from a homoeopath) - something like eg lycopodium could help. Also Fel Tauri (Ox Bile) has been found to help regulate the flow back into the gb. Try also Vogel's Milk Thistle complex for liver / digestive support. The tofu link is one I've recently uncovered myself and on average it takes 4 months following ingestion to restabilise. For you, it could just be the pill. I have heard MANY tales of people with clear scans and then being rushed to hospital. Start with the hormones.

    • Posted

      Thanks very much for your reply (and apologies for the delay getting back to you - I've only just seen this!) I had wondered if it might be related to the pill. Apparently I have a couple of small fibroids which could also link into the high oestrogen theory. I'll see if I can get tested and will try your suggestions.

  • Posted

    Morning . 

    I have all the symptoms you are describing and I have suffered with my stomach since I was 21 years old.  Yes you can have gallbladder issues that do not show up on scans. A friend of mine went 8 years undetected wit small gallstones.  When I feel bad I drink apple cider vinegar in water just 2 tablespoons 3 times a day. It eases the pain.   Go back and ask for another scan.  My scan is due before Christmas and this will be my 4th in 8 years.  I am also getting the throat test done too. I am flying out with my son to Budapest in Thursday so you can imagine how worried I am at being unwell in a foreign country but I will not let it beat me.  Try Chinese medicine, try alternative natural remedies to shift the grit , as that is what I believe it is and why we cannot find it until it grows into stones. People think you are messing around, it upsets the balance of your life ... Good luck.

    • Posted

      Thanks very much for your reply - I really hope your trip to Budapest has been ok! My consultant agreed to sending me to a second ultrasound to double check for gallstones but again it was all clear, so I think stones might not be the issue. I wonder if it could be a low functioning gallbladder issue instead...  The mystery continues.

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