How Long After Eating Does Gallbladder Contract (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 30-60 minutes

The gallbladder is a relatively small organ that is located right below the liver. It is shaped like a pouch and holds bile. After a meal, the gallbladder squeezes out the bile from within and sends it into the small intestine. This process is done effectively through a set of ducts that are tube-like structures inside the gallbladder that help push out the bile and transport it.

Bile is the substance that is produced by the liver. Bile is responsible for digesting fat.

However, in certain cases when the gallbladder isn’t healthy, patients may have to undergo gallbladder removal surgery. But there are no significant side effects if the gallbladder is removed.

How Long After Eating Does Gallbladder Contract?

When does the gallbladder contract after eating?30-60 mins
How long does pain from gallbladder contraction last?30 mins to many hours

The gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ that essentially serves as a storage unit for the liquid known as bile. Bile is produced by the liver and it breaks down nutrients and fat in specific, in order to remove the waste products from the body and aid in the process of digestion.

Bile is a yellow-brown-colored liquid that is released gradually from the gallbladder after a meal. Bile then travels into the small intestine to further digest the contents.

In addition, the gallbladder employs the assistance of a substance that is known as bilirubin. This substance is used to remove red blood cells that are old, and cholesterol.

A contracted gallbladder can occur in two different situations. One is when the body naturally responds to the food intake by releasing a hormone that triggers the gallbladder to release the bile that it has stored.

The second scenario where a contracted gallbladder can be seen is when the gallbladder is inflamed and diseased. Here, the contraction is commonly referred to as a gallbladder attack. This implies that the gallbladder doesn’t work properly.

Note that the gallbladder automatically shrinks and contracts in order to push out the bile from the inside. This is completely normal during digestion, and so does not cause problems for the body. But it is only concerning when the gallbladder abnormally contracts due to inflammation or some disease or blockage in the organ.

The symptoms of gallbladder contraction in an attack usually start from 30 to 60 minutes after eating a meal. Symptoms such as pain and others can last anywhere from 30 minutes to many hours as well.

Why Does It Take The Gallbladder That Long To Contract?

The gallbladder takes at least thirty to sixty minutes to contract and release bile because of the hormone known as cholecystokinin. The intake of fat in a meal triggers the release of the hormone, cholecystokinin. It also takes that amount of time because the food needs to be chewed, processed, and transported from the mouth to the gut.

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This hormone then causes the smooth muscle in the gallbladder to contract and push out bile into the small intestine. In addition, cholecystokinin is responsible for helping the sphincter of Oddi relax. This sphincter is essentially a muscular valve that correctly directs the bile and digestive enzymes to the small intestine from the pancreas.

A contracted gallbladder can be the result of gallstones. These gallstones are made up of hardened cholesterol or hardened bilirubin or bile salts. These gallstones can get stuck in the ducts and block the flow of bile into or out of the gallbladder. Thus, the bile is trapped and this can cause the gallbladder to be inflamed and can lead to serious infections and complications. Moreover, inflammation can lead to scarring which can shrink the gallbladder, contracting it.

If there are many gallstones, then the gallbladder itself can completely harden and not function well. This can also be a cause of gallbladder attacks.

Another reason is cystic duct blockage. The path that bile takes while traveling from the gallbladder to the small intestine is known as the cystic duct. If gallstones block this duct, then the bile from the liver can’t reach the gallbladder in order to be stored. This condition also causes the gallbladder to contract and shrink.

Symptoms of a contracted gallbladder include a stabbing pain located in the upper right part of the abdomen or below the chest or even in the upper center part of the back, and in the right shoulder too. In addition, you may experience a loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and jaundice.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the contraction of the gallbladder can be a normal happening that occurs due to the pushing out of bile after a meal in order to digest the fat content in it. But sometimes, it can turn risky because it might indicate underlying medical conditions such as gallstones, cystic duct blockage, and more.

Symptoms of the contracted gallbladder start usually 30-60 minutes after a meal, signifying the contraction that the gallbladder is going through.

If you do notice symptoms of a contracted gallbladder, the doctor may diagnose it using methods such as a CT scan, ultrasound, blood test, HIDA test, and others.

References

  1. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/111809
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0016508589903922
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0016508580900724