Dear Dr. Gott: I had a cholecystectomy with a repair of the mistakenly resected common bile duct in 1996. Since then, I have experienced a heavy sensation in the area of the operation scar after eating. I also have loose bowel movements after most meals. I have eliminated beans, dairy products, processed foods and taken antacids and Pepto-Bismol but continue to have the same feeling. My doctor told me that my digestive system is not working properly. I do not want to depend on medications that may give me other side effects. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Reader: First, I need to clarify what a common bile duct and a cholecystectomy are. The common bile duct is a tube through which bile moves from the gallbladder and the liver to the upper portion of the small intestine, where digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. A cholecystectomy is surgical removal of the gallbladder.
Based on your letter, you underwent gallbladder removal, during which part of the common bile duct was inadvertently removed. Since that time, you have had complications, including abdominal heaviness and frequent loose bowel movements.
Unfortunately, these are common complications of gallbladder removal. In most cases, as the body adjusts, they lessen or disappear. Since it has been many years since the surgery, the symptoms may never completely leave. I assume that you have been tested and examined by your surgeon or physician for the presence of scar tissue or other abnormalities in the surgical area. If you have not, you should be.
As for the loose bowels, I suggest you try adding more fiber to your diet. This can be achieved through an increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber cereals or the addition of supplements, such as Metamucil or Benefiber. You may also benefit from over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication such as Imodium or Digestive Advantage (Crohn’s and Colitis or IBS formulas).
I understand your position of not wanting to rely on medication, but after 13 years of suffering, it may be your best option. I urge you to speak to your physician and request a referral to a gastroenterologist for a second opinion. This type of physician specializes in disorders that affect the digestive tract.
To provide related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Constipation and Diarrhea” and “An Informed Approach to Surgery.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 per report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title(s).
Dear Dr. Gott: Please inform your readers that consuming potatoes with a greenish tint could be toxic and cause illness.
Dear Reader: This is true. It is also true that the amount of green potatoes that would have to be consumed in a single serving before a person would get sick is large. According to one report a 100-pound person would need to consume about one pound of fully green potatoes before adverse effects would be seen.
So, while this is a technical truth, there is very little risk of consuming enough of the offending product to cause a problem. It is also hard to get your hands on green potatoes unless you grow your own or store them improperly.
Don’t worry too much about green potatoes. You stand a greater chance of becoming sick by consuming undercooked meat or seafood.