Your gallbladder is responsible for storing bile, a substance that helps your body digest fats. Because the gallbladder's release of bile can be a somewhat inefficient system, it is possible for your gallbladder to become blocked or diseased, which may necessitate removal. While you can live without your gallbladder, you may need to make some adjustments in your daily diet to avoid adverse symptoms. One adjustment is reducing your caffeine intake, as caffeine can irritate your gastrointestinal system after surgery.
Caffeine has a number of effects on the body, not all of them harmful. For example, caffeine can stimulate your body's systems via the release of hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. This can have the effect of making you feel more alert and can increase your focusing capabilities. However, when you have had your gallbladder removed caffeine can have some adverse effects on your system. When you consume caffeine-containing foods, the caffeine can stimulate your stomach to speed up the gastric-emptying process. As a result, your small intestine may receive more acidic stomach content. Your gallbladder previously would release bile to slow down the emptying process and reduce the acidity of your stomach's contents. Without it, your liver may not release bile effectively, and caffeine can have more pronounced effects.
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Caffeine intake post-gallbladder surgery can often lead to increased incidence of diarrhea. Other symptoms you may experience include stomach pain, nausea and bloating. Foods like dairy products, greasy foods or highly sweetened foods can have similar effects. If you experience these symptoms after eating foods that contain caffeine, this may be your body signaling you to reduce your intake.
There is no definitive recommended intake for caffeine after you have had your gallbladder removed, and the surgery can affect patients differently. Determining your appropriate caffeine intake may depend upon a trial-and-error process, and consuming caffeine-containing foods like coffee, sodas, tea and chocolate in moderation. You also may wish to space out your caffeine servings throughout the day, which can help to minimize caffeine's irritating effects.
If you repeatedly experience side effects related to the foods you eat, including caffeine, after gallbladder surgery, your physician may recommend taking over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications. If symptoms continue, medications designed to absorb bile acids can be prescribed. Talk to your physician before using any over-the-counter remedies to reduce irritation related to caffeine after gallbladder removal.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gallbladder Disease
- O, The Oprah Magazine; What to Eat After a Gallbladder Removal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chronic Diarrhea
- Cleveland.com: Low-Fat Diet, Exercise Can Ease Gallbladder Problems
- Gaia Naturopathic Clinic: Effecs ot Coffee and/or Caffeine on the Gastrointestinal Tract
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.