The gallbladder is a tiny pear-shaped sac that is located under the liver. It stores and concentrates bile, which is a digestive juice produced by the liver. Bile is essential for the emulsification of fats. When we consume fatty foods, a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) is secreted by the mucosal epithelial cells of the duodenum. CCK causes the gallbladder to contract, which in turn, facilitates the passage of bile from the gallbladder into the duodenum.
Excessive consumption of fatty foods or foods rich in cholesterol is most likely to give rise to gallbladder problems. Crystallization of bile salts or cholesterol could also lead to formation of gallstones. When these stone-like deposits get lodged in the ducts of the biliary tract, one is most likely to experience excruciating pain and discomfort. Such episodes are referred to as gallbladder attacks.
When the gallbladder is not functioning properly, the body is unable to digest fats. As a result, consumption of foods rich in cholesterol can aggravate gallbladder pain. No wonder, consumption of a fatty meal is most likely to cause an attack. The intensity of the pain varies depending on how inflamed the gallbladder is. The duration of such an episode could range from 15 minutes to several hours. Besides pain in the upper abdomen, other symptoms that might be experienced by the affected individual include:
Imaging procedures such as ultrasound, computerized tomography, hepatobiliary scintigraphy, and cholangiography might be conducted to determine the extent of inflammation. The affected individuals must avoid the consumption of fatty, processed food items, as these can trigger an attack. Cutting down on the consumption of red meat, refined food, and alcohol. They must consume foods that are rich in fiber and antioxidants. They must drink adequate amounts of water. It is believed that having pears, beet juice, and cucumber might help cleanse the gallbladder.
If the symptoms are severe, then the doctors might recommend cholecystectomy, which refers to the surgical removal of gallbladder. They might chose to perform an open cholecystectomy or perform the procedure laparoscopically. Laparoscopic procedure is minimally invasive, as small incisions are made to insert a laparoscope and surgical instruments, and the removal of the gallbladder is carried out, with the help of images of the internal organs that are seen on the monitor.
Other treatment options that could be considered include oral dissolution therapy and shock wave lithotripsy. In case of oral dissolution therapy, the patient has to take oral bile acid supplements that help dissolve cholesterol stones. However, it might take several years for all the stones to get dissolved. In case of shock wave lithotripsy, high-energy sound waves are directed at the stones to break them into pieces. If an individual has undergone the surgery for gallbladder removal, he/she must strictly adhere to the dietary guidelines suggested by the doctors.
A gallbladder attack can be extremely painful, which is why it would be best to seek prompt medical help for proper treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.