Gallbladder Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Consider Natural Prevention and Treatment
Before Resorting to Surgery

The gallbladder is a small organ about the size and shape of a medium pear. Problems with this relatively small organ are responsible for more than 750,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States, and some experts estimate that more than 20 million Americans have gallstones. Of course, gallbladder disease is not limited to the United States.

The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver. Bile is a greenish alkaline solution that acts somewhat like a detergent to assist in the process of digesting food. Bile is composed of water, cholesterol, lecithin, and salts and pigments. After a person eats, the gallbladder sends bile into the intestines where it is especially helpful in the breakdown of fats.

Stones are formed in the gallbladder due to imbalances in cholesterol and bile. Factors that contribute to stone-forming imbalances include being overweight, using estrogen medications, having high blood cholesterol concentrations, being diabetic, and in some cases, having a genetic predisposition. Fad diets that cause rapid, temporary weight loss can stimulate rapid gallstone formation. Most gallstones are formed primarily of cholesterol.

Gallstones can become a serious problem, in addition to the pain they can cause, because they can travel and block the main bile duct. This can lead to infections and inflammation, and can cause damage to the pancreas, a situation that can become life-threatening.

Symptoms of gallstones include pain in the upper abdomen that develops quickly and lasts for 30 minutes to several hours, and pain in the back at the level of the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Other symptoms, which can indicate many problems other than gallstones, include nausea or vomiting, fever, swelling in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. None of these symptoms should be ignored!

Treatment of gallbladder disease is usually surgical removal of the gallbladder, although natural, non-surgical gallstone removal remedies may be a good first option befoe resorting to surgery. Surgical removal of the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy and can usually be done laparoscopically, which means only small incisions are required and the hospital stay is usually very short. Most people can live quite well without a gallbladder, although they will have difficulty digesting larger or fatty meals.

Gallstones may be preventable through eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat. Good sources of natural fiber are raw fruits and vegetables and whole-grain cereals. Moderate consumption of olive oil may lower a person's risk of developing gallstones. Research has suggested that an ingredient in olive oil may help reduce cholesterol levels in the gallbladder.

As with almost every health issue, proper diet, adequate exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are the best things you can do for yourself in relation to gallbladder disease.

Peruse our site and look through our articles to see if we can help you with your health questions. Remember, though, that only your healthcare professional can diagnose and recommend specific treatments for your health issues. We are here to give you a knowledge base that you can use to better understand your doctor's orders and to help you know what questions to ask.