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“Bilious” is derived from the French “bilieux,” which in turn came from “bilis, “In Latin term for “bile.” In the 18th and 19th centuries to justify the bad digestion, stomach pains, constipation, and excessive flatulence (passing gas) the term biliousness was used. It was thought that irregular quantity or quality of the bile was the reason for the condition. Hence, the name “biliousness.”

Biliousness is term pertaining to the bile that occurs when bile (a digestive liquid produced in your liver) is secreted in excess. It is caused by disorders of liver or gall bladder. It may accompany the bile reflux and gastric reflux of stomach acid into your esophagus. Bile reflux and gastric acid reflux are two separate conditions. These may contribute as a leading factor for GERD and esophagitis. Unlike gastric acid reflux, changes in diet or lifestyle cannot control bile reflux completely. Treatment may involve medications or, in severe cases, surgical procedures.

What is bile? Bile is a green-yellow fluid which is produced in the liver. It is stored in the gall bladder. It is important for digesting fats and for eliminating worn-out red blood cells. It also helps in processing certain toxins from the body. Bile helps in breaking the fats particles of the meal you have eaten. When you eat a meal rich in fat a signal is sent to the gallbladder for releasing the bile, which flows through two small tubes called cystic duct and common bile duct, which connects into the upper part of small intestine (duodenum).

Symptoms of biliousness:

It may be difficult to distinguish biliousness from other conditions of the stomach like gastric acid reflux. As most of the signs and symptoms are similar, and the two conditions may occur at the same time.

  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Upper abdominal pain that may be severe
  • Frequent heartburn and a burning sensation in the chest, occasionally to the throat,
  • Nausea and vomiting a greenish-yellow fluid
  • Occasionally, a cough or hoarseness and a bad taste in the mouth
  • Unintended weight loss


When to see a doctor

Visit a nearby doctor if you frequently experience symptoms of reflux, or if you’re losing weight unintentionally.


What leads to biliousness?

Biliousness may be caused by peptic ulcers, gall bladder surgery. Mostly the people who have undergone a gall bladder removal surgery experience bile reflux more than the people who have not.

Complications after surgery. Symptoms of biliousness and bile reflux are seen after gastric surgery including total removal of the stomach and gastric bypass surgery for weight loss.

Diagnosis of the symptoms: A complete description of the symptoms and detailed medical history is usually enough for your doctor to diagnose a biliary problem. Distinguishing biliousness from other stomach disorders like gastric acid reflux requires certain lab tests. The tests may include: Apart from routine blood tests, the doctor will advise endoscopy, esophageal impedance, the ambulatory acid test.

Endoscopy: A thin, flexible endoscope (tube with a camera) is slide down the throat. The camera in the endoscope can show inflammation or ulcers present in the lining of the stomach and esophagus. The tissue samples may be taken by the doctor to test for Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer.

Ambulatory acid tests. This test is advised in acid reflux of long duration. It helps the doctor to rule out the cause of acid reflux is biliary or gastric. An acid-measuring probe is used to identify when, and for how long, acid refluxes into the esophagus.

Esophageal impedance. This test measures the nature of reflux whether gas or liquids into the esophagus. It is advised when the acid probe is not helpful to identify the nature of the substance. It is one of the standard probe tests. A catheter is required to slide the probe into the esophagus.


Treatment for biliousness:

After making a diagnosis the symptoms of biliousness can be controlled by lifestyle modification, management, and medications. Lifestyle modification can be very effective for relieving symptoms of biliousness. To a certain extent.

Lifestyle and home remedies: Unlike acid reflux, biliousness seems unrelated to lifestyle factors. Many people experience both acid reflux and biliousness together. The symptoms may be eased by certain lifestyle modifications as listed below:

  • Abstaining from habits like smoking. In many cases, smoking increases the production of stomach acid and dries up saliva from your mouth. Smoking apart from damaging your lungs destroys the protective lining of the esophagus.
  • Breaking large meals to smaller portions. Eating smaller and more-frequent meals reduces the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. If the pressure rises the valve opens up the contents of the stomach reflux back to the mouth.
  • Sitting upright after eating. After eating a meal, waiting two to three hours before lying down. This allows time for your stomach to digest the meal.
  • Limiting the intake of fatty foods. The meals having high-fat content tends to relax the lower esophageal sphincter. It slows down the rate of digestion the stomach. Thus producing symptoms of regurgitation and indigestion. You may notice a sensation of bloating and tightness in your stomach after having food of high-fat content.
  • Avoid junk foods and beverages. Packaged foods increase the production of stomach acid and may relax the lower esophageal sphincter. Beverages like caffeinated and carbonated drinks, junk foods like chocolate, citrus foods and juices, vinegar-based dressings, onions, tomato-based foods, spicy foods, and mint are also kept in the category of trouble-causing foods.
  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol. Drinking alcohol irritates the lining of the esophagus. It will relax the lower esophageal sphincter. Many people experience vomiting and indigestion after alcohol intake.
  • Losing extra weight. Biliousness, indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux are more likely to occur in obese. Excess weight may put added pressure on your stomach.
  • Raising your bed. Sleeping with raising the upper body raised 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) may help prevent biliousness and reflux symptoms. You may raise your bed by using extra pillows under your head.
  • Relaxing and keeping yourself stress-free. Stress may slow down the digestion, possibly worsening the symptoms of biliousness. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing, meditation or yoga, may help to improve.

Many people with frequent stomach problems, including biliousness, indigestion, heartburn, use over-the-counter medicine. People may also use alternative therapies blindly for symptom relief without consulting the physician. Remember that even the alternative medicines are made of natural ingredients. These remedies can have risks and side effects. Always do careful research and take doctor’s advice before trying any alternative therapy.

Homeopathic medicine can be used to improve digestion troubles safely and quickly. Homeopathic medicines can specifically relieve the symptoms of biliousness. It will help to decrease the inflammation of the esophageal tract. There are no harmful aftereffects of homeopathic remedies. It is a safe alternative. Before opting for this treatment discuss your symptoms with your doctor.