Gallbladder disease is an umbrella term used to address many different types of conditions that can affect your gallbladder. Often times people suffering from a gallbladder condition might not even recognize the issue due to the symptoms being similar to those of other ailments. However, gallbladder disease can possibly become life threatening if you do not seek out proper treatment.
The gallbladder is a small organ that is like a pear-shaped sac and is located below your liver. It’s responsible for storing the bile that the liver produces. This bile is passed via a connecting duct to your small intestine. Bile helps in the digestion of good and bad fats for your body.
Gallstones, a commonly heard of term, are the cause of many gallbladder issues. They form when certain substances from the bile and blood form hard particles which block the flow of bile. They can range in size from being minute grains to being as big as a golf ball.
You have a higher chance of developing gallstones if you are overweight or obese, have diabetes, are older than 60 years or have a family history of gallstones. Women are also more likely to develop gallstones than men, especially if they are taking medication that contains estrogen.
The most common form of gallbladder disease is cholecystitis. In this instance, the duct connecting the gallbladder to the small intestine gets blocked because of gallstones. This leads to a build up of bile in the gallbladder resulting in inflammation. If left untreated, this can lead to tissue damage (necrosis) or even gangrene. Other forms of gallbladder disease include Choledocholithiasis, Biliary dyskinesia, Gallbladder cancer and Gallbladder polyps.
Gallbladder disease is diagnosed by a combination of methods. Your physician will take a detailed medical history to assess your symptoms and determine if there is any genetic possibility of gallbladder disease. Next comes a physical exam of your abdominal area to see if you feel any pain when you take a breath. An ultrasound and HIDA scan are also used to conclude the diagnosis.
Treatment of the gallbladder disease depends on how serious your symptoms are. Some lifestyle changes can make a significant difference such as losing weight safely while increasing physical activity. This is especially recommended for people with diabetes. It is also recommended to quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
Other forms of treatment for the gallbladder disease include prescription medication to manage the pain. Surgery is known to be the best method for treating recurring episodes of gallbladder inflammation. It can involve opening up your abdomen or being done laparoscopically, which allows for a quicker recovery. It’s always best to discuss your options with your physician.