Bile Reflux

by Ken Anderson on August 18, 2014

Ken Anderson

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Understanding Bile reflux


Bile reflux is a disorder wherein there is a backflow of bile into the stomach up to the area of the esophageal walls. Bile is basically an enzyme with a greenish-yellow tinge produced mainly in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Enzyme’s help food to be chemically digested and to be made-ready for absorption of minerals in the intestines.

The Disease Process

Bile is normally released with the presence of fat in the foods that we eat, as its main function is to break down fatty acids. When the food particles that have been digested in the stomach passes through the lower valve of or stomach, the valve should close tight enough not to allow any bile or digested food to backwash into the stomach. In people with reflux, the valve fails to close completely permitting a certain amount of bile to flush back into the stomach causing irritation and inflammation. But that doesn’t just end there for bile can also flow back into the esophagus in instances when lower esophageal valve also malfunctions and fails to shut tightly. If such a thing happens, bile  into the esophagus  happens and leads to  complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Bile reflux

Bile reflux most commonly presents with the following signs and symptoms:

–       Severe pain in the upper abdomen;

–       Nausea and vomiting, with bile contents visible;

–       Heartburn that continues all the way up to your throat; or

–       Dry and non-productive cough and hoarseness of voice.

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms be sure to have yourself checked by your physician. This might indicate bile reflux and early treatment of this disease is vital to avoid further complications.

Treatment of Bile reflux

Biliary Reflux can be treated with medications, but with unsuccessful drug therapy, surgery becomes the next preferred option.

Proton Pump Inhibitors. PPIs like Omeprazole (Nexium) and Lansoprazole (Prevacid) may be given to decrease acid production and lessen backflow of bile into the stomach and esophagus.

Ursodeoxycholic Acid. This drug facilitates the proper flow of bile from the gall bladder, thus it lessens the possibility of reflux.

Surgery. Surgeons may perform Diversion Surgery (creation of another route shunting bile away from the stomach) or Fundoplication (a process wherein the esophageal valves or sphincters are sewn tight enough to prevent reflux into the esophagus).

Prevention of this ailment

Diet and Exercise. Through limiting your intake of fatty foods and losing weight, you can lessen the workload of your GI system in digesting the foods that you eat.

Proper Positioning. If you have reflux and you have been successfully treated, you can properly position yourself when you lie on your bed. Elevate your head so that there will be fewer tendencies for the fluids to reflux.

This ailment, unlike acid reflux, is a bit difficult to manage. Though this ailment is often accompanied by acid reflux, the latter can be modified and prevented by dietary and lifestyle changes whereas this ailment can be efficiently managed by medications and in rare cases, surgical treatment.

If un-managed, bile reflux can lead to irritation and inflammation of the stomach walls and may in fact predispose a person to stomach or esophageal cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment of this disease is crucial. Be watchful of signs and symptoms most especially if you have a genetic or family history of the disorder.

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