Gall Bladder Disorders
The gall bladder is an organ in the human digestive system that helps to digest fats by collecting and concentrating the bile that is produced by the liver. This organ is situated below the liver, and collects bile as it is produced by the liver. When fats are consumed, the bladder releases the concentrated bile into the duodenum, from where it can mix with the food and aid digestion and absorption.
The most common gall bladder problems involve gall stones. These stones are basically crystallized bits of one or more of the components of bile (typically cholesterol or pigments). Gall stones can take years to show any symptoms, but when the symptoms do develop they can be rather unpleasant. Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting soon after a meal are the main signs of gall stones. Other gall bladder disorders such as porcelain gall bladder and gall bladder cancer are also known to occur, but these are less common. The good news about gall bladder diseases is that they can usually be treated quite easily. Even if a disorder requires removal of the gall bladder, the impact on your life will be minimal, since the gall bladder is not an essential organ.
Symptoms of Gall Bladder Disorders
Since the organ that is affected is the same for every disorder of the gall bladder, symptoms too are usually the same. However, there are differences between each gall bladder disorder, so we shall look at the symptoms of each one separately:
- Gall Stones: The condition in which gall stones are present in the gall bladder is known as cholelithiasis. Gall stones are usually silent they are asymptomatic for years, and do not require any treatment. However, if the stones continue to grow in size, symptoms are bound to develop. The classic symptom of cholelithiasis is intense pain in the upper right abdominal area. This usually happens soon after a meal, particularly a high-fat meal, and most often at night. Nausea and vomiting can also occur, and the pain may steadily increases for several hours. In some cases, referred pain is known to occur the pain originates in the gall bladder, but is felt in the area of the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades. Since the stones interfere with the delivery of bile to the digestive system, the sufferer may also notice an intolerance towards high-fat foods. Frequent Indigestion and gas may be symptomatic of gall stones, when combined with the more typical ones.
- Porcelain Gall Bladder: Porcelain bladder causes some rather typical gall bladder symptoms, but the first sign of the condition is usually jaundice. Other symptoms such as pain in the upper right abdominal area, nausea, and vomiting, especially after meals, may follow.
- Gall Bladder Cancer: This cancer also displays many typical gall bladder symptoms, namely abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Like porcelain gall bladder, it can also lead to jaundice. In addition, typical signs of cancer such as weight loss and poor appetite can also appear.
In some cases, gall stones or other problems may lead to inflammation of the gall bladder. In such cases, additional symptoms such as fever and diarrhea may also be present.
Causes of Gall Bladder Disorders
The causes of gall bladder disorders vary, depending upon the type of disorder in question.
- The physiological cause of gall stones is usually an excess of cholesterol and a lack of bile salts in the bile. However, it is not entirely clear why this happens and no clear cause and effect relationship has been determined. However, a number of these factors are known to contribute to the risk of developing gall stones. Obesity is one of the main factors that seems to contribute to the development of gall stones. The chances of developing gall stones also seem to increase as a person approaches middle age. Women seem particularly susceptible to gall stone formation. Diet is also thought to play a role in gall stone formation, although clear links are yet to be found. A lack of fiber and an excess of cholesterol in the diet are thought to be risk factors. A lack of certain minerals and vitamins is another factor specifically calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and folates.
- The exact cause of porcelain gall bladder is also unknown, but it is surmised that the condition is a result of severe cholelithiasis and chronic inflammation of the gall bladder. This condition also seems to occur more frequently in women who are overweight and above the age of 40.
- With gall bladder cancer too, there are recognized risk factors, but no clearly linked causes. Once again, the condition affects women more often than men, and is more likely to occur after the age of 40. Obesity seems to be a major risk factor too. Gall bladder cancer also seems to result from chronic gall stone problems and chronic inflammation of the gall bladder. There may also be a link between porcelain gall bladder and cancer.
Remedies for Gall Bladder Disorders
While there are many sources that recommend a number of natural and herbal remedies for gallbladder problems, this is one health problem for which such remedies are almost entirely useless, unless you count preventative and dietary measures. A daily teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is often recommended for gall bladder problems (gall stones in particular), as is a daily teaspoon of olive oil. Herbs such as milk thistle, rosemary, fenugreek, turmeric, and dandelion are also often recommended as gallbladder home remedies. A treatment known as a gall bladder flush seems to be very popular as a gall bladder cure. However, there is no evidence to show how these treatments are supposed to work, or that they even work at all. The gall bladder flush in particular is claimed to help you pass gall stones however, what many people think are gall stones are simply regular stools that look abnormal due to the unusual amount of olive oil, lemon juice, or any other remedy that has been consumed.
One more useful remedy that you can try when you have a gall stone attack is a hot water bottle applied to the abdominal area. In some cases, a herbal remedy might also help, however, do not expect it to provide any more than gallbladder pain relief remember that it will not address the underlying problem.
For any effective gall bladder treatment, you will have to consult your doctor. If your doctor is able to determine that the gall stones are composed of cholesterol, then medication is available that will dissolve the gall stones. However, this is a very slow process, and you will need to take the medication regularly for months, and possibly over a year. There are also non-surgical procedures that use ultrasonic shockwaves to break up the stones into smaller fragments that can then exit the gall bladder more easily. The final option is surgery, in which the gall bladder will be removed.
For all other gall bladder problems, including cancer, porcelain bladder, and inflammation, the recommended option is surgery. As mentioned earlier, the after effects of this surgery are minimal. The main adjustment you will need to make is to change the way you eat, especially with fatty foods.
Diet for Gall Bladder Disorders
Dietary recommendations for gall bladder disorders aim more to prevent these disorders than to treat them. However, to some extent, a diet for gallbladder inflammation and gall stones would be very similar. Most of these recommendations will also reduce the severity and frequency of gall bladder attacks after you develop a gall bladder disorder.
First of all, it is important to have a healthy intake of fats on the whole, you should limit the amount of fat that you consume, and you should also ensure that a large proportion of these fats are healthy fats, such as omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Fiber is also an important dietary element for preventing and managing gall stones, so be sure to eat plenty of whole grain, fruits, and vegetables. At the same time, restrict your intake of sugar, since it is known to increase the risk of gall bladder disorders.
Finally, the good news: moderate consumption of alcohol and coffee seems to be beneficial to the gall bladder. However, remember that the key is moderation an excess of these substances will do harm that exceeds any possible benefits.
Suggestion for Gall Bladder Disorders
Remember that gall bladder disorders, like most other health problems are best prevented. Risk factors such as obesity and poor diet are largely within your own control. Ensure that you lead a healthy lifestyle, with adequate exercise and a well balanced diet. If you need to lose weight, do not be hasty extreme diets can be dangerous and counterproductive, and there are also indications that they may contribute to gall stones.
Finally, if you do develop a gall bladder disorder, be sure to consult your doctor before attempting any treatment yourself. Home remedies for gall bladder disorders are not especially useful, and neglecting the problem could lead to serious complications.
- M.M Moga, Alternative treatment of gallbladder disease, Medical Hypotheses, Volume 60, Issue 1, January 2003, Pages 143-147, ISSN 0306-9877, 10.1016/S0306-9877(02)00351-1.
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