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The Connection Between Gallbladder and Constipation: Exploring Their Mutual Influence

One of the important parts of digestion is the gallbladder. Any problems with this organ can affect the bowel movements and produce symptoms, such as constipation. The gallbladder is an important organ that is often ignored until it causes a problem.

The primary function of the gallbladder is production of bile, which is a thick fluid to help with digestion of fats and other foods (1). The gallbladder acts with other parts of the biliary system that comprise of liver and other ducts to keep the bowels movements going. Any type of disruption or blockage in the production or the flow of bile fluid causes digestive problems, pain and also changes in the bowel habits.

In this article we will discuss the link between gallbladder and constipation and how any problems of gallbladder affect the bowel movements.

Why Do Gallbladder Problems Cause Constipation?

If the gallbladder is not making sufficient bile, then there is malabsorption. This occurs when there is improper absorption of the nutrients from the foods that are eaten and these nutrients are not being used effectively by the body. This also affects the frequency, texture and timing of your bowel movements. These changes in the bowel movement cause constipation. Individuals with gallbladder problems commonly experience symptoms, such as: nausea, abdominal pain, indigestion, flatulence, a feeling of discomfort or fullness after eating and cramping. These gallbladder attacks can start and subside abruptly and commonly occur after meals.

If there is frequent gallbladder pain or if there is obstruction from gallstones, then the patient needs surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) (2).

Both removal of gallbladder or its dysfunction can cause changes in the bowel habits, such as change in the color of the stool where it will have a clay-colored or greyish appearance (3). The patient may also have constipation; however, it is also common to have diarrhea. Even after removing the gallbladder, bile is produced by through the liver, so diarrhea can occur as a result of increased fats in the stool or changes in the way how bile is produced and released.

Gallbladder dysfunction can also lead to gallstones formation, which obstructs various parts of the digestive system. If this occurs then gallbladder attack or ileus, which is a serious blockage of the intestine, can occur.

Can Gallbladder Pain Occur As A Result Of Constipation?

Constipation and gallbladder pain can be related; however, it can be difficult to know which has led to the other.

Any variations in the fat content of the stools occurring from bile flow changes can lead to constipation and gallbladder attacks from gallbladder dysfunction or pain from gallstones or gallstones can also cause pain (4).

If there are bowel changes which occur along with other symptoms of gallbladder problems, then it is important to seek medical consultation to check the gallbladder function to see if it is related to the digestive issues.

What are the Symptoms of a Low-Functioning Gallbladder?

Some of the symptoms that indicate improper functioning of gallbladder are (4):

  • Constant pain in the middle part or upper right area of the abdomen.
  • Cramping, sharp or dull pain in the upper middle portion or upper right part of the abdomen.
  • Pain in the abdomen that that radiates to the back or under the right shoulder blade.
  • Stools that look like clay.
  • Fever, nausea and vomiting.
  • A feeling of abdominal fullness or discomfort after having a meal.
  • Gas pain or bloating, especially after eating.
  • Yellowing of whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice).

Why Women Are At Higher Risk For Gallstones And What Are The Symptoms?

Women are at higher risk to develop gallbladder dysfunction and gallstones. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, around 20% of American females had gallstones by the age of 60 (5). Actually, women who were between the ages of 20 and 60 were thrice likely than men for developing gallstones. Some of the risk factors for development of gallstones in women are:

  • Having a family history of gallbladder problems.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • Obesity or being overweight.
  • Losing weight rapidly.
  • Women of American Indian or Hispanic heritage are also at increased for developing gallstones.

What is the Treatment for Gallbladder Problems?

A change in diet where the fat intake is cut down is the first step for treatment of gallbladder problems. Severe inflammation or infection, which causes obstructions or gallstones can need additional pain medications, antibiotics, and also need surgical drainage or removal of gallstones or the gallbladder.


The gallbladder in our body plays a vital role in digestion and if there are any problems with production of bile, or if there is obstruction in the flow of bile, then change in bowel habits can occur. Some of the more common symptoms of gallbladder problems include abdominal cramping, pain and bloating. In case of bowel changes, such as constipation along with these symptoms occur, more so if there is a fever, then it becomes imperative to seek medical consultation.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 28, 2024

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