Discussions By Condition: Gallbladder conditions

Gall Bladder Pain and Codeine Sensitivity

Posted In: Gallbladder conditions 67 Replies
  • Posted By: Burlios
  • April 11, 2009
  • 04:09 AM

I had my Gall Bladder out 2 and a half years ago after attacks that made me feel like I was having a heart attack. I had scans and they showed a bile duct blockage and so I had surgery within days of a diagnosis. Since then I have had 2 or 3 episodes of very similar pain and these always seem to be linked with taking codeine. Doctors in the Emergency Department where I went twice by ambulance say a codeine sensitivity post gall bladder removal isn't possible. I don't have any of the other typical codeine allergy symptoms. After avoiding codeine and being pain free for more than 12 months, I , without checking took a cold tablet containing codeine. Within a brief space of time i was experiencing the same pain again. It runs along the right side of the oesophagus and into the right quadrant of my abdomen. The pains spasms in waves and then resolves. Surely this is codeine related? Has this been anyone else's experience pre or post operatively?

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67 Replies:

  • Last night (April 24th) at bedtime I took a pill from an old prescription supply (Tylenol 3 with codeine) as I'd injured my hand and arm and didn't want it to keep me awake. I read a book for about ten minutes and shortly after turning off the light I begain to experience severe pain in my upper abdomen. I told my husband (who was wakened by my writhing and moaning!) that it felt like gallbladder pain but couldn't be, because I'd had my gallbladder removed four years ago. After about 2 hours of serious pain, I began to feel better and eventually was able to sleep. I couldn't think of any reason for the pain except the pill I'd taken. This afternoon I googled "codeine sensitivity" and was surprised to see the post with the link to gallbladder-type pain. I'll be interested to see if there are other responses. Meanwhile, I have of course thrown away the old pills!
    treadwell 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have had similar problems and have also had my gall bladder removed. It's been quite a while since I've taken codeine, so I'm a little vague on the exact experiences (it took a while for me to make the connection as I used to be able to take codeine). But basically, I would go through what felt like gall bladder pain, along with shortness of breath, massive anxiety, heart palpitations, chest pains, and a genral feeling of awefulness. I was recently being treated by a nurse at our work medical centre and he asked me if I had any allergies. I now always say codeine, even though it hasnt specifically been diagnosed as an allergy, I figure it's not worth taking it. And as most medical people have done, he asked me what symptoms it caused. After I told him, he asked me if I'd had my gall bladder removed. I was shocked and when I questioned why he asked, he said he also had issues with codeine after having had his gall bladder taken out. Just thought I'd add two other cases so that you might feel a little better about things.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 6, 2009
    • 00:16 PM
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  • Just thought I'd add two other cases so that you might feel a little better about things. Thank you for posting this. I think, like you, I'll mention that I seem to be sensitive to codeine when I'm asked about allergies in future.
    treadwell 2 Replies
    • September 6, 2009
    • 11:59 PM
    • 0
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  • Thank you for posting this. I think, like you, I'll mention that I seem to be sensitive to codeine when I'm asked about allergies in future.I had my gall bladder removed at age 16 (now 26) so I can't recall the pain from it so much. What I will say though, is that I experience intense abdominal pain when I take codeine. I was googling this to see if anyone had the same trouble with imodium, as I took it for the first time today and had a similar (but not exactly the same) reaction to when I have taken codeine. I thought maybe I just had a sensitivity to opioids, but it seems like it might be more than that if so many people have this link between gall bladder removal and codeine!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 27, 2009
    • 07:29 AM
    • 0
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  • I had my gall bladder removed and while still waiting to be discharged I kept getting massive pain attacks exactly the same as the gall bladder pain. When others where being discharged before me I was feeling a complete whimp. These pain attacks went on and at one point I was taken back to hospital with suspected heart attack I was vomitting massive gall bladder like pain and sweating profusely. It was only in time I worked out it was the codiene that was causing it. I am still just as reactive 7 years later and will never take it again.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am so glad I found this site! For years I couldnt figure out why after going to the dentist I would have severe gal bladder attacks ( funny part is I had my gal bladder out 14 years ago) I never made the connection til recently I had a horrible painful exposed nerve in one of my teeth, and while waiting the few days to get into the dentist I bought some tylenol 2s with codine over the counter, and sure enough that night I woke up with the `fantom gal bladder attacks`again. I have asked before and told its not possible, but it is from the codine that you get those ol attacks again, you know the one where it feels like a broom handle is being jammed across your upper chest ( hmmm right where your liver is lol) thanks guys I knew I wasnt crazy!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am so glad I found this site! For years I couldnt figure out why after going to the dentist I would have severe gal bladder attacks ( funny part is I had my gal bladder out 14 years ago) I never made the connection til recently I had a horrible painful exposed nerve in one of my teeth, and while waiting the few days to get into the dentist I bought some tylenol 2s with codine over the counter, and sure enough that night I woke up with the `fantom gal bladder attacks`again. I have asked before and told its not possible, but it is from the codine that you get those ol attacks again, you know the one where it feels like a broom handle is being jammed across your upper chest ( hmmm right where your liver is lol) thanks guys I knew I wasnt crazy!It is now 4:25 in the morning and I am having these "phantom gall bladder attacks". My gallbladder came out over 5 years ago. I took half of a Tylenol 3 with codeine and went to bed. The pain woke me up!!! Thanks for the posts. By the way does anyone know how/why this happens?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • This posting is WONDERFUL! I had my gall bladder removed about five years ago and was told pre-surgery by a nurse to be careful about codeine after surgery. I didn't think much about it until about six months after gall bladder removal surgery, I had a migraine one day and was given a Mersyndol tablet containing codeine. I thought my worst nightmare had returned! We were camping at the time, I had to go sit in the car and just scream in pain until the pain subsided enough that I could face everyone. Since then I have had codeine a couple of times, just testing the theory, and guarantee I haven't had another one since! It is definitely the codeine - although every doctor and pharmacist I have spoken with says they have never heard of such a reaction!We can DEFINITELY say - 'yes' it does cause gall stone like pain. P.S. I also find that cans of spaghetti (in Australia) are too acidic have the same effect.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • This post is amazing. I had never heard of this until I got a really bad cold last week. I took two cold and flu tablets at 5am and by 5.30am i was writhing in pain for 2 hours. The pain was just like when i had gallstones. It comes and goes and nothing relieves it. But I had my gall bladder removed 6 years ago when i was 20. I had not made the link until that afternoon I took another two tablets and sure enough within half and hour the pain was back. I went to the pharmacisst that afternoon and said id had a reaction. If I had been to any other pharmacists I still would not know. But luckily a lady had come in the day before. Same problem. She had taken the same tablets and been to hospital. A specialist walked by and asked if she'd had her gallbladder removed. She had. Apparently its not common knoweldge and theres no literature on it but they are starting to notice the links. Im just glad Im not the only one. Although I thought that I'd never experience those pains again after it was removed. hmmm.....My pain goes right along the diaphragm, and into the chest it gets tight and it cramps on for a few minutes then off. My guess is that it affects the phrenic nerve which innervates the diaphragm. Why... well thats a whole other question.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I had my Gall Bladder out 2 and a half years ago after attacks that made me feel like I was having a heart attack. I had scans and they showed a bile duct blockage and so I had surgery within days of a diagnosis. Since then I have had 2 or 3 episodes of very similar pain and these always seem to be linked with taking codeine. Doctors in the Emergency Department where I went twice by ambulance say a codeine sensitivity post gall bladder removal isn't possible. I don't have any of the other typical codeine allergy symptoms. After avoiding codeine and being pain free for more than 12 months, I , without checking took a cold tablet containing codeine. Within a brief space of time i was experiencing the same pain again. It runs along the right side of the oesophagus and into the right quadrant of my abdomen. The pains spasms in waves and then resolves. Surely this is codeine related? Has this been anyone else's experience pre or post operatively?I had my gall bladder out 9 months ago and had heard from a friend that it was not good to take codeine. I asked my surgeon who was a Professor if it was safe to take codeine. He said it was. Two days ago I took codeine and had terrible pain and I went to my GP. She knew of this link and called it Biliary Dyskinesia. I haven't been able to find much info on it and it's relevance to codeine by googling. I will be avoiding codeine from now on, as advised by my Dr.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I had my gall bladder out 9 months ago and had heard from a friend that it was not good to take codeine. I asked my surgeon who was a Professor if it was safe to take codeine. He said it was. Two days ago I took codeine and had terrible pain and I went to my GP. She knew of this link and called it Biliary Dyskinesia. I haven't been able to find much info on it and it's relevance to codeine by googling. I will be avoiding codeine from now on, as advised by my Dr.I too have problems with taking codeine post gallbladder surgery. I work with General Surgeons and biliary dykinaesia is definitely a possibility after taking codeine. One of them explained it to me and it made sense to me. One day at work, I accidentally took paracetamol with codeine in it and when finally I managed to talk again as the pain was too intense and managed to explain to another surgeon what I had taken and how it affected me, he was not at all surprised. It is not a common occurrence but certainly common enough for doctors to know about it. I will most certainly be avoiding anything with codeine in it in the future.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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  • OH, I am soo glad I am not alone. I have been to the hospital on a couple of occasions after having a reaction to codeine. All times I was treated like an infant that had no idea what I was talking about. Blamed me for not eating a proper breakfast before taking the pill. One doctor told me I wouldn't have an issue if the pain killer was injected but it had the exact same affect as if I'd taken it orally. I had my gallbladder out 14 years ago and have not been able to take anything with codeine in it. That includes morphine and anything vaguely related. I'm confused why doctors and nurses are not away or this.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Is this something that only happens if you dont have a gallbladder? I have taken codeine all my life with no symptoms. Recently I had the flu and took co-codamol. The first few were ok but then I woke up one morning in the early hours feeling terrible and took a couple of pretty low codeine content tablets. Within about twenty minutes I got this intense pain in my upper abdomen - dead center. It went right around to my back, it lasted about three and a half hours then just started to subside. I got scared because I didn't go to the emergency room at the time and have since been told I shold have to see if it was pancreatits or a gallbladder attack.Could this pain have been caused by codeine even though I have my gallbladder? I have been ill with weird stomach symptoms for about a year - mild pain, nausea and acid and all tests were fine except for some small polyps on my gallbladder but too small to worry about.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 13, 2010
    • 09:19 PM
    • 0
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  • Hooray, just what I'd been thinking all along. Just like you all, gallbladder out 18 months ago, have had the occasional unbelievable gallbladder type pain and only recently realised the connection. Codeine had never been a problem pre removal of my gallbladder so far as I can remember - I'm not normally a big pill taker. I've got a bad cold and took a Codral Cold and Flu (original) last night with no problems, but had a day time one this morning. At the onset of the pain, I thought, oh, no, don't tell me it has codeine in it. Sure enough the night time one is codeine free, but the daytime one contains codeine. You know that pain that starts and all you can think about is how bad its going to get and panic sets in (a bit like going into labour). I'd googled this before and not found anything - don't know why it came up today. But on another site, someone said that they got some relief by taking drinking milk, so I tried it - after all I didn't have anything to lose, it was either try it and hope it worked or just wait for the inevitable unbearable pain. Just poured myself a huge glass and sipped it - it certainly has worked. The pain only stayed on for about another 10 minutes and has now subsided to a manageable sort of ache. Funny how we all self-diagnose but you just have to - I did tell my doctor after I'd made the connection and he just scoffed at me - lucky we've got the internet. I'm wondering now whether has something to do with the stomach - perhaps the codeine should only be taken on a full stomach?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 20, 2010
    • 02:46 AM
    • 0
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  • Hooray, just what I'd been thinking all along. Just like you all, gallbladder out 18 months ago, have had the occasional unbelievable gallbladder type pain and only recently realised the connection. Codeine had never been a problem pre removal of my gallbladder so far as I can remember - I'm not normally a big pill taker. I've got a bad cold and took a Codral Cold and Flu (original) last night with no problems, but had a day time one this morning. At the onset of the pain, I thought, oh, no, don't tell me it has codeine in it. Sure enough the night time one is codeine free, but the daytime one contains codeine. You know that pain that starts and all you can think about is how bad its going to get and panic sets in (a bit like going into labour). I'd googled this before and not found anything - don't know why it came up today. But on another site, someone said that they got some relief by taking drinking milk, so I tried it - after all I didn't have anything to lose, it was either try it and hope it worked or just wait for the inevitable unbearable pain. Just poured myself a huge glass and sipped it - it certainly has worked. The pain only stayed on for about another 10 minutes and has now subsided to a manageable sort of ache. Funny how we all self-diagnose but you just have to - I did tell my doctor after I'd made the connection and he just scoffed at me - lucky we've got the internet. I'm wondering now whether has something to do with the stomach - perhaps the codeine should only be taken on a full stomach?they wont take your gallstones/gallbladder out during an acute phase, cos one of the effects of them is infection - if they start chopping around (keyhole or otherwise) tying to pull out an infected, swollen gallbladder chances are you'd end up in itu with peritonitis. They will only take them out if there is a serious risk of the gallbladder rupturing ... which would then put you at risk of peritonitis. (gallstones, and the ensuing inflamed/infected gallbladder can cause pancreatitis)http://www.thegallbladdersymptoms.com/Take care and visit your doctor for more info
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 26, 2010
    • 09:50 PM
    • 0
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  • I also experienced excruciating pain after taking codeine but I still had my gall bladder. It took about three times before I made the connection and have stayed away from codeine ever since. I had my gall bladder out and was considering trying codeine again but it sounds like it is not a good idea.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 6, 2010
    • 08:53 PM
    • 0
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  • i too had taken codeine many times before having my gallbladder removed...and since having the operation, i have been rushed to hospital three times after taking codeine. i finally made the connection, however, the nurses at the hospital told me it wasnt possible to suddenly become allergic after having an organ removed. i think they are uneducated and obviously dont know what they are talking about. i just tell people (ie. doctors, hospitals) that i am allergic to codeine..i find its easier than explaining that they are all wrong
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 8, 2010
    • 06:55 AM
    • 0
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  • I had my gall bladder removed 4-5yrs ago. Not long after it was removed I got this incredible pain at the top of the abdomen. The pain came in waves, like labour pains. It also made me dripping with sweat. I couldn't believe I was still getting the pain I had before I got the gall bladder removed. My doctor then referred me to another specialist and I was only in his office for 2 minutes as soon as I explained the situation, he asked me if I take codeine. I said I do quite often as I get alot of migraine headaches. Well he told me that is whats causing it and stop taking codeine. I haven't had it since until recently when I'm trying to find something that works for migraine headaches. I wondered if the problem with codeine is for life or do you grow out of it. NO! I tried codeine and 1hr later the incredible pain came back. That answered my question. I can't take codeine every again. That's a bummer for my migraine headaches. :-( But I never want that pain again. It was soo bad.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 30, 2010
    • 11:14 PM
    • 0
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  • I was just diagnosed with gall stones and my doctor gave me Tylenol 3 with codeine for the pain and I was finding the pain worse and now I see why....thank you for the info...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 12, 2010
    • 11:24 PM
    • 0
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  • Well, I'm another one, for what it's worth.I had my gall bladder and a cyst (also attached to the bile duct) removed. Before the surgery I'd been able to take codeine without a problem. Three weeks after the surgery I took some codeine and the pain was severe enough to make me call the surgeon. The surgeon said that codeine can irritate the bile duct in some people.Now it's 3 years later and I took some codeine again... same pain, very intense, upper right quadrant, comes in gradually subsiding waves. Never, ever again.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 30, 2010
    • 00:32 AM
    • 0
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