The gallbladder is one of the important organs involved in the process of digestion. It is vital to keep it in good condition to maintain the total health of the body.
Certain foods have been acclaimed to help the vitality of the gallbladder and fight against diseases that might be developed but in the same vein, there are certain foods that do the exact opposite and should be avoided at every cost.
We’ll be exploring the functions of the gallbladder, the various potential problems associated with it, and how to avoid them.
The gallbladder is a digestive organ that stores bile and it is located under the liver in the upper section of the abdomen.
It is a pear-like shaped organ and about four inches in size. Bile is a gastric juice responsible for the breaking down of fats and other food substrates in the small intestine.
During digestion, the gallbladder releases the stored bile which allows the nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Gallbladder diseases are any form of conditions in the body that affects the gallbladder. There are several problems that could be associated with gallbladder ranging from mild to severe.
♦ Symptoms of Gallbladder Diseases
The symptoms of gallbladder diseases are closely related and the common ones include:
• Severe pain
Pain is a common symptom of Gallbladder infections. The pain is generally felt in the upper region of the abdomen. The severity of the pain is determined by the condition of the disease.
A person down with a gallbladder disease is prone to experience constant vomiting. Often, it becomes worse after a meal.
Gallbladder problems can cause an infected person to be nauseous.
• Acid Reflux
People with chronic gallbladder diseases might begin to experience acid reflux. It’s often as a result of the imbalance in the digestion process caused by the gallbladder problem.
Getting down with a fever that can’t be explained is a sign of infection. If fever worsens, it means the infection is becoming severe.
Jaundice can be an indication there’s something blocking the common bile duct. The common bile duct is a passage that links the gallbladder and small intestine.
Diarrhea is a common symptom with any condition that affects the digestive system.
• Urine coloration
When dark urine is observed, it’s another common sign that the common bile duct might be blocked.
♦ Possible Gallbladder Diseases
There are a number of possible diseases that can be associated with the gallbladder. The common ones are as follows:
This is one of the commonest gallbladder problems. They are small, hard substances that form like a stone and settle in the gallbladder.
This condition is often an effect of gallstones. It’s a condition that involves gallstones being deposited in the common bile duct.
In some situations, the stones are formed in the common bile duct by itself. Such stones are called primary stones while those formed from gallstones are called secondary.
Inflammation can destroy the gallbladder in the long run if not taken care of.
• Common Bile Duct Infection
If the common bile duct is blocked, it tends to develop an infection that can range from mild to chronic.
• Perforated Gallbladder
Gallstones can also result in a perforated gallbladder when not treated on time.
A perforated gallbladder is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.
• Gallstone Ileus
Gallstone ileus is a disease developed when gallstones move into the small intestine and block the channels. Although it’s a rare condition, it can also be life-threatening.
• Acalculous Gallbladder Disease
It’s often referred to as a gallstone disease without stones.
This type of condition exhibits the same symptoms as gallstones but the gallstones are absent.
Empyema is a condition in which pus is found on gallstones.
When gallstones are left untreated, they might begin to develop pus. The pus is formed from blood cells, dead tissues, and bacteria. Empyema can also be a life-threatening condition if left untreated.
• Gallbladder Polyps
Gallbladder Polyps are abnormal tissue growths on the gallbladder. The polyps can grow into bigger pouches over time and might need surgery for removal.
• Gallbladder Cancer
Cancer of the gallbladder can be as a result of complicated gallbladder diseases left untreated. It is a life-threatening condition and spreads to other parts of the body fast.
♦ What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are solid deposits of gastric juices that form in the gallbladder. It’s mostly formed as a result of excess cholesterol mixed with bile in the gallbladder.
Gallstones are shaped like stones and they can block the openings of the gallbladder and common bile duct.
♦ Causes of Gallstones
There are no exact causes of gallstones but the following contribute to the development:
• High Cholesterol
When there’s excess cholesterol in your bile, it puts you at a high risk of developing gallstones. The excess cholesterol that couldn’t be dissolved by the bile will combine and form solid deposits in the gallbladder.
• Excess Bilirubin
Bilirubin is a chemical synthesized from the destruction of weak red blood cells. If the liver is damaged, the body is prone to produced excess bilirubin. When the bile is unable to dissolve all the bilirubin, it forms gallstones.
• Excess Bile
If the gallbladder contains more amount of bile than required. The excess becomes concentrated and clumps together to form hardened deposits in the gallbladder.
♦ Symptoms of Gallstones
Common symptoms of gallstones are:
• Dark Stool
• Coloured Urine
• Stomach pain
♦ Diagnosis of Gallstones
A doctor might need to carry out a test to ascertain the symptoms of gallstones. Some of the prescribed tests include:
• Ultrasound Scan
An ultrasound scan is used to take images of the abdomen. From the images, signs of gallstones and other gallbladder problems could be detected.
• Abdominal CT scan
This examination involves a computed tomography scan that takes X-ray images of your abdomen and liver.
• Blood Tests
Blood samples are tested to check for the level of bilirubin present in the blood. It can be used to determine if gallstones are present.
• Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP):
ERCP is an examination process that involves using X-ray images and an endoscopic camera to view the liver and gallbladder.
It is used to check for any gallstone present.
• Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan
In this procedure, a radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream. The substances go down into the liver and gallbladder.
During a scan, the substances allow the doctor to clearly see any trace of gallstones.
♦ Treatment for Gallstones
Home remedies that can be adopted to take care of gallstones include:
• Exercising regularly
• Consuming high fiber diets
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Using supplements like Vitamin C, lecithin, and iron.
• Using OTC medications like Ursodiol
If the gallstones require surgery to be removed, the major surgery recommended is:
• Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal
The procedure involves the removal of the gallbladder completely. Bile then moves into the small intestine straight from the Liver without entering the gallbladder.
♦ Complications of Gallstones
If gallstones are left untreated, the following complications might arise:
• Acute Cholecystitis
• Gallbladder Cancer
♦ Risk Factors of Gallstones
The risk factors of developing gallstones can be categorized into three: Lifestyle risk factors, medical risk factors, and uncontrollable risk factors.
Lifestyle risk factors include:
• High Cholesterol diet
• Weight loss
Medical risk factors include:
• Drugs with high estrogen
Uncontrollable risk factors include:
• Family history of gallstones
• Being above 60 years
• Being a female
• Native American race
♦ Foods That Help the Gallbladder
There are certain Diet foods that help revitalize the gallbladder. Commons ones are:
• Citrus fruits
• Green Vegetables
• Bell peppers
• Low-fat dairy products
♦ Foods to Avoid for Gallstones
The gallbladder is a very sensitive organ and that’s why it’s important to keep a healthy diet. There is a certain food that can irritate the gallbladder and increase the risk of developing gallstones. Major ones include:
• White Bread
• Vegetable oil
• Peanut oil
• Processed foods
• High-fat foods
Gallbladder Diseases are generally overlooked because the symptoms are mild. It is dangerous for gallstones to be left untreated because the complications can be life-threatening. Eating a healthy diet regularly can help reduce the risks of developing gallbladder problems.