Compassionate Treatment for Gallbladder Disorders

Feeling unexpected abdominal pain around your upper midsection? The cause may be your gallbladder. This small organ normally works quietly, storing bile from the liver before it gets moved to the small intestines to help you digest your food. If it becomes dysfunctional, the gallbladder can cause a number of symptoms—including severe pain, nausea or vomiting.

When gallbladder problems arise, it is time to get help quickly and get relief. You deserve a doctor who addresses your gallbladder concerns in a way that is best for your personal needs, so you can enjoy your life and good health.

Signs and Symptoms of Gallbladder Disorders.

Pain — This is the most common sign of a gallbladder issue.

  • Usually occurs in the mid- to upper-right part of the abdomen
  • May be mild or intermittent. Or could be frequent and severe.
  • May radiate to other parts of your body, such as right upper back or mid-back, as well as your right chest or mid-chest.

Other symptoms commonly include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Fullness 
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Changes in bowel habits—chronic diarrhea or acute diarrhea
  • Light-colored or clay-colored stools
  • Dark or tea-colored urine
  • Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and eyes

Common Gallbladder Problems

Gallstones - When the liver produces too much cholesterol, the excess cholesterol can form small, solid crystals. These then become gallstones over time. They can block the exit from the gallbladder by lodging in the gallbladder neck or obstructing the cystic duct. This can lead to acute inflammation of the gallbladder and this causes severe pain, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. 

Other times, gallstones can be more insidious and can cause nausea, bloating, fullness, changes in bowel habits, food intolerances or food avoidances. 

Bile duct stones — These are gallstones that have moved into the bile ducts. If not addressed, they can lead to severe pain. They also can lead to life-threatening conditions requiring hospitalization such as:

  • Abscesses or perforations
  • Gallstone Pancreatitis—severe inflammation of the pancreas
  • Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and eyes, and dark-colored urine due to the bile backing up into the liver and blood
  • Acute Cholangitis—severe infection of the biliary system
  • Sepsis—infection throughout the body, causing potentially life-threatening organ damage

Bile duct damage — The ducts connecting the gallbladder to the liver and small intestines can be injured or narrowed due to the infection or inflammation. In rare cases, a connection can form between the gallbladder and the intestines due to a gallstone eroding through the walls of these organs.  

Polyps and tumors — Whether benign, precancerous, or cancerous, any growths in and around the gallbladder can be troublesome and needs to be monitored. It may be recommended to remove the gallbladder.

Parasite infestations — Consuming contaminated food and water can cause ingestion of parasitic creatures that can affect the gallbladder. 

Cholecystitis — Often referred to as a gallbladder attack, blocked cystic duct (exit from the gallbladder) can lead to painful inflammation of the gallbladder.

  • Acute Cholecystitis — Severe, sudden pain usually caused by gallstone obstructing the cystic duct or obstructing the common bile duct. It can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and fever. 
  • Chronic Cholecystitis — Recurring inflammation that is usually less painful than the acute version. This causes the symptoms of bloating, fullness, dull aching and cramping, nausea, and intolerance to foods—specifically fatty, fried, and spicy foods. 
  • Acalculous Cholecystitis (biliary pain without gallstones) — Inflammation that arises in the absence of gallstones or other gallbladder problems.

Diagnosing Gallbladder Disorders

To find out what is happening, Midtown Surgical & Skin Institute may perform a set of tests:

  • Consultation to better understand your symptoms
  • Blood tests to assess your liver and pancreas function, white blood cell count, and other signs of infection
  • Ultrasound, CT scan, or possible MRCP to view gallbladder
  • HIDA scan to see how well the gallbladder functions—how well it squeezes the bile into the intestines—and to visualize blockages of the gallbladder.

Medical Solutions

There are various medical interventions based on the seriousness of your gallbladder diagnosis, such as:

  •  Pain medication
  • Surgery to remove the gallbladder and the gallstones
  • Gastroenterology specialist for possible ERCP to remove a bile duct stone

Recovery Time

Laparoscopic gallbladder removal typically takes about 7-10 days for recovery. If open surgery is needed, you can expect your recovery to last 4-6 weeks.

Recommended Diet Changes

Adjusting your diet can be helpful for eliminating minor gallbladder issues and preventing the formation of gallstones as well as preventing further attacks.

  • Eliminate foods that make gallbladder attacks worse — foods high in unhealthy fats (saturated fats), processed foods, and refined carbohydrates (such as white bread and white rice)
  • Eat more healthy foods — fruits, vegetables, fiber, low-fat dairy products, dark leafy greens, tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, fish—and yes, coffee! 

Most people who have a troublesome gallbladder due to gallstones eventually will need surgery, and the problem can worsen the longer you wait to address your gallbladder. Gallstones do not typically dissolve on their own, and medications to break them up can take months or even years to work. To be sure you are making the right decision for your health, reach out to us for a consultation. 

FAQs

Is it possible for gallstones to be treated with natural remedies?

While you may see websites claiming that treatments like apple cider vinegar can dissolve gallstones, the truth is that over 90% of gallstones are not able to be dissolved. A surgical procedure is usually required if the gallstones are causing symptoms.

Can the correct diet cure my gallbladder problem?

Choosing healthy foods, water, and exercise can all help keep your body well, including limiting the cholesterol production that can cause gallstones to form in the first place. However, once gallstones have formed, they are unlikely to dissolve or disappear.

What are the risk factors for gallstones?

Being over 40 years old, being female, having a family history of gallbladder issues, pregnancy, taking estrogen, obesity, high-fat diet, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, liver disease, and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to gallstones.

What is a gallbladder attack, and what should I do if I’m having one?

A gallbladder attack describes what happens when gallstones obstruct the exit of the gallbladder and cause symptoms. These can include pain in your upper right abdomen, just under the rib cage. You may also suffer with nausea or vomiting, pain in your right shoulder and back, fever, chills, yellowish skin, yellowish eyes, dark urine or light-colored stools. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately.


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Meet your Doctor

William Hanner D.O.

Surgeon and Founder

General Surgery
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