The gallbladder is a small, pear shaped organ that sits right under the liver. Its primary function is to store bile that’s produced in the liver, and then pass it along to the small intestine. Bile aids in digestion as it breaks down the fat in your food. When a condition impairs the function of the gallbladder, it is known as gallbladder disease. This umbrella term is used to categorize a range of gallbladder disease types. More often than not, gallbladder disease symptoms are caused by inflammation. In this article, we will discuss the various types of problems that can occur in this organ, causing it to lose function.
- Gallbladder Stones or Gallstones:
- Who is at Risk?
- Gallstones Symptoms:
- Gallstones Treatment:
- Acalculous Gallbladder Disease :
- Causes and Risk Factors of this Condition:
- Gallbladder Disease Treatments:
- How is Gallbladder Disease Diagnosed?
- Lifestyle Changes Post a Gallbladder Removal Surgery
- Are There Any Foods That Help Prevent Gallbladder Disease?
Gallbladder Stones or Gallstones:
Gallbladder stones are made of any biochemical that can be found in the bile. These can include cholesterol, calcium, bile salts or bilirubin. They develop when the gallbladder cannot be emptied correctly and when they occur, they lead to blockages between the gallbladder and the bile duct that is responsible for transporting the bile to the intestine.
Who is at Risk?
Patients who suffer from the following conditions are at risk for developing this problem:
- Crohn’s disease
- Being overweight
- Being over 60
- Being female
- Having a family history of this condition
- Having cirrhosis or any liver disease
Symptoms of gallstones include the following:
- Extreme abdominal pain
The main treatment for gallstones is to surgically remove the gallbladder. This is mainly because gallstones tend to recur and this is the best way to prevent future episodes of the same. Furthermore, humans can live without their gallbladders, so removing this organ does not pose a threat to the patient’s life or wellbeing. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to dissolve the stones. However, it can take years for the treatment to come into effect and the chances of more stones developing later on are high. This is why surgery is the most recommended treatment type.
Sometimes, gallstones are referred to as cholecystitis, however, this is an umbrella term used to describe inflammatory diseases of the gallbladder. At times, this condition is caused by gallstones. But, it can also develop due to tumours or other underlying illnesses. When left untreated, acute cholecystitis can lead to the development of chronic cholecystitis. In this, the gallbladder begins to shrink and also loses its ability to store bile.
Some of the symptoms of acute cholecystitis are:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
Gallbladder removal surgery is the treatment in this case.
Acalculous Gallbladder Disease :
Acalculous gallbladder disease is a type of disease in which the patient suffers from inflammation in the gallbladder, without the presence of any stones.
Acalculous Gallbladder Disease Symptoms:
Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
It is important to note that these gallbladder disease symptoms may vary on the basis of the underlying cause.
Causes and Risk Factors of this Condition:
Some of the causes and risk factors of this condition include:
- Heart surgery
- Physical trauma
- Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
- Severe burns
- Abdominal surgery
- Bacterial or viral illnesses
- Receiving IV nutrition
- Infections in the blood stream
Gallbladder Disease Treatments:
This type of inflammation is often treated with the help of painkillers. The doctor may also prescribe NSAID drugs, however, this depends on the individual medical case and whether the doctor things these will be beneficial.
If the patient experiencing recurring instances of inflammation, then the doctor may recommend gallbladder removal surgery.
Gangrene of the Gallbladder:
Gangrene can occur in the gallbladder when the organ does not receive adequate blood flow. This can be caused due to a blockage created by gallstones, or acute cholecystitis. It is a very serious condition as it can lead to the death of the organ.
Patients can experience any of the following gallbladder disease symptoms:
- A dull ache in the abdomen that does not seem to go away
- Nausea or vomiting
- Low blood pressure
When the gallbladder starts to develop gangrene, doctors respond by taking it out.
How is Gallbladder Disease Diagnosed?
After enquiring about your symptoms and medical history, the doctors perform a single test or a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis of the condition:
- Imaging tests: imaging tests allow doctors to look at the gallbladder to understand what is wrong. It can immediately alert them to the presence of gallstones. A few common imaging tests are X-Rays, Ultrasound, Hida Scan, MRI and CTs.
- Physical exam: Doctors use an indicator known as Murphy’s test to check for gallbladder disease. In this, a doctor places this hands on the abdomen and asks the patient to breathe. If the patient experiences pain during this test, then it indicates the presence of gallbladder disease.
Lifestyle Changes Post a Gallbladder Removal Surgery
Patients must follow a gallbladder friendly diet for a few days after their surgery. This is because the removal of the gallbladder can initially trigger a few side effects like diarrhoea. Thus, patients must accommodate the same by avoiding:
- Food items that have more than 3 grams of fat
- Full fat diary
- Cream-based sauces
- Greasy or processed foods
- Fried foods
Patients must indulge in a high-fibre diet during this time. This is because fibre helps in bulking up the stool.
Are There Any Foods That Help Prevent Gallbladder Disease?
Yes, certain foods are good for the gallbladder. As this organ is quite sensitive, certain foods can help protect and nourish it, while others increase the chances of inflammation. Some of the healthy foods that you should include in your diet to prevent gallbladder disease include:
- Dark leafy greens
Gallbladder disease comes in various forms. However, one of the key indicators of the same is severe, sharp pain in the abdomen. If you have been experiencing pain in the abdomen consistently, you should go to a doctor for a check-up.