Gallbladder, also referred to as cholecyst, is a tiny pear-shaped organ located just below the liver. It is the site for storage of bile, secreted by the liver. Bile is then transported to the stomach, through the bile duct, where it aids the digestion of lipids. An adult gallbladder can store about 50 ml of bile.
Infection in the gallbladder, formation of gallstones (cholelithiasis), and the obstruction of bile ducts by such gallstones often lead to gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) and pain. It is experienced as a sharp pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, and is often accompanied with fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The pain experienced due to the presence of gallstones is called biliary colic.
Given below are a few ways that help to deal with gallbladder attacks and the pain associated with it.
▶ Hot Compress
Applying a hot compress or heating pad on the upper abdominal area provides relief in case of minor pains. Any cotton cloth dipped in hot water, and wrung tight can be used as a warm compress. Castor oil pack can also be prepared by dipping cheesecloth in hot castor oil and wringing it tight. Place this cloth on the painful area, and cover it with a larger cloth. Apply this pack for 20-30 minutes to ease the pain.
Anti-inflammatory medicines and painkillers may be prescribed to provide relief from recurrent mild pain. In case of cholecystitis, antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infections, and deal with any existing infections. In certain cases of gallstones, medications containing bile acids like ursodeoxycholic acid or chenodeoxycholic acid are prescribed to dissolve cholesterol gallstones. Such dissolution of stones helps to reduce the intensity as well as incidence of gallbladder attacks.
A diet rich in saturated fat, trans fatty acids, and refined sugar is known to increase gallstone formation. On the contrary, the beneficial dietary factors include dietary fiber, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It is advisable to avoid the consumption of eggs, legumes, meat, foods with artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, etc. In addition, it is also recommended to maintain a healthy and steady weight through correct diet and regular but mild exercise. Weight gain can add to the severity of gallbladder problems.
▶ Gallbladder Flush
Gallbladder cleanse or gallbladder flush methods have been promoted as natural options to deal with gallstones and the associated pain. These involve the use of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and fruit juices like pear juice, apple juice, lemon juice, etc. A variety of herbs including turmeric, milk thistle, etc., are also suggested for detoxification. However, these methods are not backed by sufficient scientific evidence as far as their ability to dissolve or flush out gallstones is concerned.
Surgical removal of gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is the most commonly adopted method to deal with gallbladder inflammation and gallstones. Either an open surgery or a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed to remove gallbladder, depending on the individual patient and his/her medical history. Generally, these surgeries are devoid of complications but demand a strict diet regimen. A low-fat, low-cholesterol and high-fiber vegetarian diet is strictly advised in order to prevent gastrointestinal complications.
The incidence of gallbladder attacks is on the rise with changing lifestyle and food habits. Such attacks, if ignored, can worsen, and result in the bursting of gallbladder. This may harm the nearby organs, and pose an increased risk of infections. A healthy and disciplined lifestyle coupled with the right therapy is the key to deal with such gallbladder malfunctions.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.