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Bile Reflux Symptoms

Bile reflux has a signs and symptoms which are very similar to those of acid reflux /  gerd and that makes it hard to distinguish between the two. The major difference is that unlike reflux , bile is more of a stomach disease and it causes an inflammation  of the stomach which comes with burning or  gnawing pain of the top portion of the abdomen.

What happens is that the bile (digestive fluid created within the liver) makes its way up from the small intestine into the stomach and sometimes even esophagus. This is often accompanied by stomach acid and combined with acid reflux produced many unpleasant side effects. When combined, these two can wreck havoc upon your esophagus and stomach, greatly increasing the probability of cancer.

Bile Reflux SymptomsBile has a yellowish-green color and its function is to digest fats as well as eliminate toxins and old blood cells from the body. The gallbladder is where this fluid is mostly concentrated but it is produced within the liver. Once fatty foods make their way into the duodenum (small intestine) the body is signaled to release the bile from the gallblader through two tiny tubes (common bile duct and cystic duct) into the small intestine.

Once this happens, the food moves down into the duodenum through the pyloric valve (ring of muscles) which opens slightly to allow digested foods (liquid form) to enter the intestines. Sometimes this valve does not work correctly, and this causes the bile to backup into the stomach. There is also a small ring such as this on the bottom and top of the esophagus which is why heartburn and acid reflux symptoms happen.

The body is a very complicated mechanism and everything needs to work correctly for digestion to happen properly. Often one small problem can trigger others and this is why these conditions tend to come in pairs and are hard to diagnose and manage.

Although acid reflux can often be controlled by dietary and lifestyle changes, this is not the case with bile reflux symptoms. The only way to successfully combat the bile illness is through medications or surgery.

Bile Reflux Symptoms

  • Severe pain felt in the upper abdomen 
  • Chronic heartburn - caused by the bile combining with stomach acid and traveling up into the throat, may also include acidic, sour taste in the mouth 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting (green bile) 
  • Sore throat, cough, loss of voice, hoarseness, voice change (not common) 
  • Loss of weight 
  • Indigestion   

Warning: Anyone experiencing these symptoms on a daily basis should see a doctor and receive the proper examination. Those already in treatment for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) but unable to control the symptoms might also be suffering from bile reflux.

Common Bile Reflux Causes

  • Complications due to gastric surgery 
  • Peptic ulcers 
  • Cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) 

Long Term Risks

  • Heartburn / Reflux / GERD - as previously mentioned, often this illness will also combine with acid reflux and allow the bile to make its way up into the esophagus. As the tissue within the throat is not meant to withstand acidity, this is the reason that the symptoms occur and can cause harmful effects when left untreated. 
  • Barrett's Esophagus - the cells in the esophagus start to change color and may lead to malignancy. 
  • Esophageal stricture (narrowing) - exposure to stomach acid may cause the lower esophageal valve to narrow and this may increase chances of choking or having trouble swallowing food. 
  • Gastritis - irritation of the stomach leading to bleeding or ulcers. 
  • Esophageal cancer - possible link due to the presence of acid in the throat (based on animal testing). 


These may include dietary / lifestyle changes similar to those of acid reflux but will most likely require medications or surgery. The only way to really know what works is by getting the right exams performed and testing the various medication under the supervision of a qualified physician. It is not recommended for a person to diagnose this by themselves as that can often be wrong, and increase the likelihood of severe problems down the road.

Before seeing a doctor, write down as much information about the signs, symptoms, frequency of what you are experiencing and have your questions ready. Sometimes, under the stress of the examination you might have a hard time thinking of the things that you wish to discuss and this will help with that greatly. There are many tests that can be performed, but none of them are especially painful so you shouldn't stress yourself out over the visit.

The main part is to find out what is wrong so that you can start receiving treatment as fast as possible and begin to learn and understand about the illness. This is the only and best way to combat it although many quack doctors will tell you otherwise. Although natural remedies do help, I have never heard of anyone being able to fully control these two by chinese herbs, acupuncture or meditation. Once you already have a plan set out for you, than you may begin to experiment with the other options out there and see which one can help and maybe even replace the medication which you taking.