Gallbladder removal can lead to excess flatulence—farting—an embarrassing and smelly situation. Here’s why and how to treat this problem.

Gallbladder removal, also known as cholecystectomy, is a common procedure for treating the pain of gallstones.

But it’s not without possible side effects such as heartburn, bloating and—passing gas.

Why does gallbladder removal cause flatulence?

“The mechanism for this effect is from excess bile in the intestinal tract, which then leads to increased contractions (peristalsis) and more undigested sugar ending up in the colon,” explains Nadeem Baig, MD, a board certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Monmouth Gastroenterology, a division of Allied Digestive Health.

“Here, the bacteria [that’s naturally in your gut] will happily digest the sugar and turn it into hydrogen and methane.”

Needless to say, when hydrogen and methane are expelled via passing gas, the odor isn’t pretty.

“The best way of managing this condition is A) eating less refined sugars (sodas, candy, pasta) or other foods that can be fermented into gas; B) taking medicine that removes excess bile from the intestines, and C) taking antibiotics to reduce the amount of colonic bacteria.”

Additional foods that are full of refined sugars include: any food made with white flour such as pancakes and English muffins; baked goods at commercial grocery stores; white rice; energy bars; many cereals; and many microwavable dinner dishes. Many common foods have added sugars.

Dr. Baig’s specialties include gastrointestinal cancers and liver disease, plus gallbladder, biliary tract and pancreatic disorders. He is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: Shutterstock/Aaron Amat