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Diseases & Conditions

Bile: Q&A

What could cause a person to vomit bile?

Bile is formed and secreted by the liver into the small intestine (duodenum). The bile can flow into the stomach and mix with the acid fluid secreted by the stomach. The vomit can thus be a mixture of acid and bile and sometimes the bile is in excess, causing the vomit to be greenish or yellow in color with a bitter taste. Some stomach operations can cause people to vomit mainly bile.

Vomiting, in general, has many causes, including obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, or a “slow stomach” (gastroparesis). All of these conditions could also cause a person to vomit up bile.

This question, however, cannot be answered completely without a complete history of your problem, a thorough physical examination, and a laboratory evaluation.

We advise you to see your local doctor for a referral to a board-certified gastroenterologist or general surgeon.

If you are seeking a second opinion, we suggest that your diagnosis is confirmed by experts at an institution experienced in identifying digestive disorders. Your local doctor might be able to make such a referral.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/12/2012...#9659