Gallbladder is a sac-like structure located below the liver. Its function involves collecting the bile produced by the liver before passing it on to the intestines. The bile is a juice that enhances digestion by mixing with the ingested food to induce the breakdown of fats in the food. However, this function won’t be executed efficiently, if the gallbladder develops some problems. This article highlights the causes, symptoms and treatments of gallbladder dysfunction.
Gallbladder dysfunction causes
The most common condition associated with gallbladder problems is the formation of hard particles called gallstones. Gallstones are formed due to an imbalance of the substances making up bile or the failure of the gallbladder to empty as it should. They can be very small or enlarge to the golf ball size. You may experience pain when gallstones block the biliary tract duct. This may lead to more serious problems if the duct is blocked for a prolonged period of time. The gallbladder, the pancreas and the liver may get inflamed and infected. Here are the common causes of gallbladder pain.
- High cholesterol diet makes fats to crystallize in the gallbladder forming gallstones.
- Discomfort may also occur when the bile in the gallbladder backs up.
- Cholecystitis which is basically the gallbladder inflammation.
- Hypothyroidism may slow down your metabolism, which may in turn reduce the digestion rate of fatty foods. This causes the accumulation and crystallization of debris in the gallbladder, forming gallstones.
- Some food allergies can lead to histamine production, which can cause excessive accumulation of fluid in the bile duct. This can cause bile backup, pain and swelling in the gallbladder.
Risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Eating foods with high content of saturated fat and cholesterol
- Sudden weight loss
- Eating extremely low-calorie and low-fiber foods
- Being over 40 years of age
- Using too many contraceptive pills
- Family history
- Being pregnant, which increases the levels of estrogen in the body
- Taking drugs that lower cholesterol levels
- Less physical activities
Gallbladder dysfunction symptoms
Mere presence of stones in the gallbladder does not trigger any symptoms, until they get out of the gallbladder and block the bile ducts. Gallstones can considerably reduce or even stop the flow of bile into the intestines. This can cause inflammation of the gallbladder, which can trigger the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Pain: Whether it is formation of gallstones or gallbladder infection, the most common symptom of this medical condition is abdominal discomfort. The area that often experiences frequent episodes of pain is the right side of your abdomen. In most cases, the pain will travel down to the back. The pain may worsen after a heavy meal with too much fat.
- Indigestion: Gallbladder dysfunction impedes the transportation of the bile that helps in digestion from the liver to the intestine. Consequently, the patient may experience digestion problems that can be exhibited in the form of belching, bloating, flatulence and stomach upset. Indigestion will become more pronounced if you have meals with high fat content.
- Abnormal Stool Color: Since gallbladder dysfunction restricts bile flow into the intestine, there will be less amount of bile in the intestine. This will impair the breakdown and digestion of fats. The major part of your stool will be made up of undigested fats, thereby changing their color. White or light-colored stool indicates that there is something wrong with your bladder.
- Diarrhea: The insufficient amount of bile in the intestine makes it to let undigested fats pass as they are. Since there is no breakdown of fats, they are quickly moved out of the intestine, resulting in frequent bowel movement.
- Constipation: Sometimes bad gallbladder may cause constipation, and not diarrhea. The indigestion associated with gallbladder dysfunction often leads to formation of hard stools, thereby causing difficulty in bowel movement.
- Nauseating Feeling: The poor digestion associated with gallbladder can cause nauseating feeling, which might trigger vomiting. Consumption of high-fat foods, when your gallbladder is faulty may bring vomiting sensations that can last for some time.
Gallbladder dysfunction treatment
If you experience the above mentioned symptoms, then you should consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, gallbladder pain may lead to more serious problems. Therefore, you need to initiate the treatment process as soon as possible. Given below are some tips on how to deal with gallbladder problems.
- Hot Compress: Applying a heating pad or hot compress on the upper abdominal can provide relief for minor gallbladder pains. To use this method, dip cotton cloth in hot water, and then wrung tight. You can also prepare castor oil pack by dipping cheese cloth in hot castor oil before wringing it tight. Put this cloth on the affected area for about 20 minutes to relieve the pain.
- Medication: The doctor may prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines to provide relief from mild pain. If you are suffering from cholecystitis, antibiotics will be prescribed to cure the infections. In some cases of gallstones, the doctor may prescribe medications with bile acids, such as chenodeoxycholic acid or ursodeoxycholic acid or to dissolve gallstones. This will help reduce the intensity and episodes of gallbladder attacks.
- Diet: Avoid diets with high content of refined sugar, saturated fat and trans fatty acids as they can increase the development of gallstone. Instead, follow diets with dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Some of the foods you need to include in your diet are eggs, legumes, meat, hydrogenated oils and foods with artificial sweeteners etc. Moreover, it is advisable to maintain a healthy weight through healthy diet and regular exercise regimen. Some studies suggest too much exercising may worsen gallbladder problems, so perform moderate exercises.
- Gallbladder Cleanse: Gallbladder flush or gallbladder cleanse can work wonders in easing gallbladder pain. These involve using apple cider vinegar, olive oil and fruit juices, such as pear juice, lemon juice, apple juice etc. Detoxification using various herbs, such as milk thistle, turmeric etc., is also recommended.