Alcohol Intolerance After Gallbladder Removal

Gallbladder removal surgery is a risk factor for alcohol intolerance. Gallstones and bile flow changes due to gallbladder removal surgery can influence how your body processes alcohol.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


What happens when your gallbladder has been removed, and you drink alcohol?

If you have undergone laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you may be concerned about your ability to process alcohol after your gallbladder has been removed — especially if you are a heavy drinker or consume a large amount of alcohol.

Drinking alcohol after the removal of the gallbladder may cause alcohol intolerance and its side effects. You may experience abdominal pain or discomfort in the area where your gallbladder used to be following drinking.

However, these symptoms are unlikely to be related to cholecystitis and gallbladder removal.

But results from a study conducted on rats showed that alcohol intolerance might increase after a gallbladder attack or gallbladder surgery.

The Role Of The Gallbladder In Alcohol Metabolism

Understanding alcohol intolerance and gallbladder disease requires a solid understanding of what happens in your body after alcohol use.

The first place your body encounters alcohol is in your stomach, where it is reduced by an enzyme called gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH).

Here is the role that the gallbladder plays in alcohol metabolism:

Bile Duct Secretion

The gallbladder is a small organ that is part of your biliary system. It stores and concentrates bile, which it then secretes into your small intestine to aid digestion.

The liver produces bile by breaking down cholesterol, which enters your bloodstream after you eat.

When you consume alcohol, it slows the production of bile, because alcohol consumption inhibits the secretion of cholecystokinin, a hormone that stimulates gallbladder contraction and production of bile.


When you consume alcohol, it slows down your gallbladder’s ability to contract and release bile.

This can cause bile to build up in your gallbladder, leading to a condition called cholelithiasis, or gallstone disease.

Gallstones are made of cholesterol and other components of bile that have become solidified into small stones.

Factors That Influence Alcohol Intolerance After Gallbladder Removal

The following factors may influence alcohol intolerance after gallbladder removal:

Pancreatic Inflammation

People with chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic inflammation are more likely to develop alcohol intolerance after gallbladder removal.

Alcohol can irritate and inflame your pancreas, making it difficult for your body to process alcohol.

If you have acute pancreatitis, talk with your doctor about limiting your intake of alcohol after gallbladder removal surgery.

Pre-Existing Gallstones

If you have preexisting gallstones, your doctor may recommend avoiding alcohol for a few weeks before and after gallbladder removal surgery.

This is because drinking alcohol can cause your gallbladder to contract and squeeze out bile, leading to pain or inflammation.

Inability To Digest Alcohol

If you have a condition that makes it difficult for your body to digest alcohol, you may be at risk of developing alcohol intolerance after gallbladder removal.

Your body digests alcohol by breaking it down into smaller molecules, then absorbing into your bloodstream through your small intestine.

Suppose you have a condition that interferes with your ability to digest alcohol, such as Crohn’s disease or pancreatitis.

In that case, it can make it difficult for your body to process and absorb alcohol.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction

There are many ways to treat alcohol abuse, which might cause irregular bowel movements, bloating, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and gallbladder problems.

Depending on your situation, treatment may involve detoxification followed by behavioral therapies, medication, or a combination of approaches.

Your doctor may also recommend dietary changes. For example, you may have to stop eating fatty foods, reduce alcohol intake, and use certain supplements.

These treatment plans will help you quit alcohol addiction and treat withdrawal symptoms.

It is also important to treat any co-occurring conditions, such as depression or anxiety, and co-occurring substance abuse disorders, such as opioid dependence or cocaine addiction.

Find Drug And Alcohol Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or someone you love have an alcohol addiction, reach out to the Bedrock Recovery Center to learn about our addiction treatment programs.

Our healthcare professionals are available to answer your questions and help you get started on a successful addiction recovery journey. Contact us today.

  1. National Health Services
  2. National Institutes of Health: National Library of Medicine

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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