Why Does My Gallbladder Hurt After I Eat?

Reviewed on 8/31/2020

What Is the Function of the Gallbladder?

Gallbladder pain after eating may have a variety of causes, such as gall stones, cholecystitis from a trauma or infection and other causes.
Gallbladder pain after eating may have a variety of causes, such as gall stones, cholecystitis from a trauma or infection and other causes.

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located under the liver that stores bile, a fluid that helps the body break down fat in food.

What Causes Gallbladder Pain?

Causes of gallbladder pain include:

  • Gallstones (also called gallstone disease, or cholelithiasis) occur when cholesterol and other substances found in bile form stones. When stones pass from the gallbladder into the small intestine or get stuck in the biliary duct it can cause pain. This is called biliary colic, or a “gallbladder attack.” 
    • The pain of a gallbladder attack may resemble a heart attack. See your doctor right away if you have chest pain
  • An inflamed gallbladder (cholescystitis) is typically caused by infection or injury to the gallbladder that results in swelling and possibly pain. 
  • Bile backing up into the gallbladder may cause the gallbladder to swell, and people may feel pain in the ride side of the chest blow the rib cage, pain in the back of the right shoulder blade, and nausea, vomiting, or gas
    • Pain may be sharp or dull and usually lasts several hours. 
    • Pain may occur especially after eating a greasy, fried, or fatty meal. 
  • Gallbladder rupture
  • Gallbladder polyps
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Acalculous gallbladder disease or gallbladder dyskinesia

Why Does My Gallbladder Hurt After I Eat?

The gallbladder may hurt after eating because the body secretes more bile after large or high fat meals.

Bile works to break down fats we eat so the body can absorb them. When fats are ingested, the gallbladder contracts significantly in response, and combined with blocked ducts, this pressure can cause pain.

What Are Foods to Avoid When Your Gallbladder Is Acting Up?

Diets high in fat and cholesterol may contribute to the development of gallstones, and certain foods may trigger gallbladder attacks, such as:

  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods 
  • Cured meats
  • Sausages
  • Ground beef
  • Bacon 
  • Dairy products
    • Full fat milk
    • Cream cheese
    • Butter
  • Sugary foods and refined sugar
  • Refined wheat products
  • Eggs
  • Acidic foods
  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Pork
  • Onions
  • Poultry 
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Tomato sauce
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee 
  • Margarine 

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Reviewed on 8/31/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference