The gallbladder is a tiny pear-shaped sac that is located beneath the liver. Gallbladder plays an important role in the digestive process. It performs the vital task of storing bile and releasing it onto the small intestine after the consumption of a fatty meal. If the gallbladder becomes sluggish or is unable to secrete sufficient amounts of bile on the small intestine, the process of emulsification of fats would be adversely affected.
Malfunctioning of gallbladder is usually a direct result of unhealthy eating habits. Gallbladder disease is often characterized by indigestion-related symptoms, that usually make an appearance after one consumes a fatty meal. In this article, we will find out the circumstances under which one may suffer from a sluggish gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a digestive organ that helps in the digestion of fats. When one ingests a fatty meal, digestive enzymes released by the walls of the stomach as well as the intestine act on the food.
When wave-like contractions of the walls of the intestine break down the food even further, a hormone called cholecystokinin is released by the endocrine glands. It is this hormone that brings about contractions in the smooth muscle of the gallbladder. This leads to the relaxation of a valve called sphincter of Oddi. When this valve relaxes, bile is released onto the small intestine.
Most of the time, overeating or consuming alcohol or fatty meals on a regular basis can put a lot of burden on the digestive organ. In a majority of cases, consumption of a diet rich in cholesterol and fats, leads to the formation of gallstones. Gallstones are hardened deposits that form when there is an imbalance in the concentration of cholesterol or bile pigments.
Formation of gallstones is one of the most common reason behind the malfunctioning of the gallbladder. When these hardened deposits obstruct the passage of bile, the process of digestion of fats naturally gets hampered. When the gallbladder is unable to release bile, there is a great likelihood of the gallbladder getting inflamed. Under these circumstances, one is most likely to suffer from a sluggish gallbladder.
A smooth flow of bile is extremely important for digestion or metabolism. While the liver produces bile, it is the gallbladder that secretes it on the small intestine. When both of these organs are overworked due to poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle, one is likely to suffer from ingestion or digestive disorders.
Abdominal pain, queasy stomach, nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating and belching are some of the common symptoms of a sluggish gallbladder. Symptoms associated with a sluggish gallbladder may be due to the inflammation of the gallbladder due to gallstones.
Many people develop an intolerance to fats, and suffer from episodes of gallbladder attack after the ingestion of a fatty meal. Sometimes, pain may even be referred towards the right side of one's chest. The intensity and duration of pain may vary depending on the extent of inflammation of the gallbladder.
The treatment of a sluggish gallbladder would depend on the extent of damage to the gallbladder. Certain diagnostic tests or imaging procedures such as CT scan, ultrasound, hepatobiliary scintigraphy or cholangiography can be conducted if one seems to be experiencing recurring gallbladder attacks.
If the metabolism seems to have been severely affected, one would also need to start making changes to one's diet and lifestyle. Apple juice, prune juice and beet juice are known to be excellent for helping problems associated with digestion or slowed metabolism.
Herbs such as milk thistle and alfalfa are also known to be effective when it comes to liver and gallbladder cleansing. Certain herbal supplements or drugs may also help in dissolving small-sized gallstones. If drug therapy or herbal remedies don't seem to be working, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may be recommended.
Lithotripsy involves use of high-energy ultrasound waves for breaking down the gallstones. Oral dissolution therapy is another method that involves ingestion of pills that contain bile acids. If natural remedies or other treatment options don't work and the gallbladder seems to be severely damaged, one may have to undergo surgery for removal of the gallbladder.
This was a brief overview on reasons behind malfunctioning of the gallbladder. A sluggish gallbladder can cause a great deal of discomfort, and must never be taken casually. Anyone who has been exhibiting these symptoms on a regular basis must get a medical checkup done.
If left untreated, there is a risk of the gallbladder becoming infected, inflamed or damaged beyond repair. Under these circumstances, surgery would have to be performed to remove the gallbladder. Gallbladder removal comes with its own set of problems, so, it would be better to follow the guidelines suggested by the doctor so as to restore the function of the gallbladder.