What is Bile Diarrhea?

Bile diarrhea

is an unusual complication of gallbladder surgery. Bile is a brown greenish liquid which is secreted by the liver. Bile is needed for the metabolism of fat contained in food. The gall bladder is a small sac beneath the liver. It is used for storing and discharging the bile. Whenever food containing fat is ingested, the gall bladder discharges bile to help break down the fat.

How is Bile Diarrhea Caused?

Bile is made up of cholesterol droplets, bile salts and bilirubin. After the fats are metabolized in the small intestine with the aid of bile secreted from the gall bladder, the bile salts are reabsorbed by the small intestine to be recycled for future use. After a cholecystectomy or a removal of the gall bladder, the liver has to overwork and secrete more bile salts. However, in the absence of the gallbladder, there is no place to store them. The increased bile salts cannot be fully reabsorbed in the small intestine. The excess travels down to the large intestine and causes diarrhea.

Symptoms of Bile induced Diarrhea

  • Persistent diarrhea after gallbladder surgery.
  • The urgency to defecate is more after consumption of meals.
  • Watery pale stools with a frequency of more than three times a day.

Diagnosis of Bile Induced Diarrhea

The diagnosis mostly entails conducting blood tests and stool tests. A colonoscopy is also done to examine the colon to rule out other serious diseases.

Treatment of Bile Diarrhea

  • This particular diarrhea is a side effect of the gallbladder surgery and cannot be eliminated altogether.
  • Cholestyramine is a well known medication to treat bile salts diarrhea. The medication needs to be dissolved in water and should not be ingested in a dry form. This medicine mainly works by inactivating the bile salts in the intestine before they move on to the large intestine. This drug may interfere with the absporption of other medications and it is advisable to take multivitamin supplements with it.
  • Apart from the medications, it is advisable to consume a low fat diet in this particular condition.


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