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Gallbladder Disease

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ about three to four inches long. It's located underneath the liver and behind the bottom right rib. (It's the green organ in this rendition). It acts to store and concentrates bile. Bile is a substance produced by the liver (stored in the gallbladder) until it is needed in the small intestine to help digest fatty foods.

At times the gallbladder may become inflamed and this will usually cause intense pain. The pain will be located in the upper right quadrant under your ribs. Pain is often accompanied by fever, nausea, and vomiting. This situation needs to be remedied immediately. If left untreated, inflammation of the gallbladder can become life threatening. This is also known as cholescystitis.

The old-fashioned approach to gallbladder disease was to ignore the pain until it was so severe the patient couldn't stand it any longer and then to operate to remove the gallbladder. Once upon a time this made a certain kind of sense, but today there are other alternatives.

Women tend to get gallbladder problems more than men, about twice the rate. Perhaps it is hormone related. (It is still a mystery).

Cholesterol that is naturally occurring in your body can mix with bile to form gallstones.  They are called “stones”, but they have more of a hard jelly-like consistency to them; kind of like a hard gummy bear. People with gallstones frequently have no symptoms at all. (I had no symptoms).

Sometimes small stones will even pass out of the person on their own, but there is usually pain while the “stone” is working its way thru the bile duct as that duct is narrow. It will pass via the intestinal tract.

About half of people with gallbladder stones do not even know that they have them. Painless stones probably float freely inside the gallbladder.

If the blockage of bile occurs from a stone, nausea, and pain in the area under the right ribs occurs. Often these symptoms occur after the person has eaten fatty foods.

Recommendations:

Call your health care provider and see your health care provider. He or she may order an ultrasound examination of your abdomen.

For inflammation of the gallbladder eat no solid food for a day, have all the water, juice, and clear broth you like and then slowly eat applesauce, and other soft FAT-FREE foods only.

For gallstones: There are ways to try to pass a stone without surgical intervention. See your health care provider if you think you have gallstones.  A simple ultrasound of your abdomen will show if stones are present.  After that discuss your options with your health care person.

Obesity and gallbladder disease are clearly related.  We used to see it mostly in women over the age of forty, but now with so many obese young people those statistics have changed. Yes, you can live without your gallbladder, but you want to try to keep all of your organs for as long as you can.

The recommended treatment for gallstones is usually surgical removal of the gallbladder.  Bile acid preparations can be used to dissolve stones slowly and work well on small stones.

Different herbal teas are said to be helpful for gallstones when taken with lemon juice and olive oil.  Talk to your health care provider about that option too.

Eat less fatty foods, this also includes foods fried in fat, like french fried. If you need to lose weight do it slowly as to not flare your gallbladder and or gallstones.


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