Gallbladder disorders are usually caused by a blockage in the tubes in the bile ducts that allow bile to circulate between the liver, small intestine, and gallbladder. It is the name of the small sack located just below the liver. The gallbladder collects the bile produced by the liver and directs the bile to the small intestines after a meal. The treatment of diseases that occur in this sensitive organ should be done without delay. Otherwise, the disease can negatively affect the quality of life of the person. Although the gallbladder is an important organ for the body its removal does not prevent the patient from continuing his/her routine life.
Bile, a greenish-brown alkaline liquid, consists of cholesterol, bile salt, and waste products. The most important task of bile in the digestive system is to break down fats. Bile secreted from where it is stored then enters the small intestine. It then increases the digested products solubility, allowing it’s utilization. In addition, it breaks down fat-soluble vitamins and facilitates absorption.
Gallbladder disorders are usually caused by a blockage in the bile ducts, the tubes that allow bile to circulate between the liver, gallbladder, and small intestine. These common disorders are as follows:
Gallstones (Cholelithiasis): Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or the size of a golf ball. These stones, which are formed as a result of the obstruction of the passageways of the ducts, do not usually cause any symptoms, but if they progress, they can cause pressure, swelling and pain in the abdomen overlaying the sack, and this is called biliary colic. It usually occurs in the upper abdomen or right scapula.
Inflammation of the Gallbladder (Cholecystitis): When the gallbladder is blocked for certain reasons, it causes inflammation and this situation is called cholecystitis. This condition may develop rapidly within a few hours or may recur over a long period of time. This condition, which usually starts suddenly, causes pain that lasts for more than 6 hours, and this inflammation becomes severe when not treated.
Gallbladder Sludge: Bile sludge, which occurs when the bile stays in the gallbladder for too long, can cause stone formation or duct obstruction.
Gallbladder Cancer: A rare disease, gallbladder cancer can spread to the outer layers, liver, lymph nodes and other organs.
Gallbladder Pain Without Gallstones: Some people may experience gallbladder pain even if there is no obvious obstruction in the duct. This can be caused by the small intestine or delicate biliary tract, the dysfunction of the muscles between the duct and the small intestine, and small and undetected gallstones passing through the ducts.
Bile Duct Injuries and Strictures: Injuries to the biliary tract are usually the result of unexpected manipulations during cholecystectomy. More than one method can be used for the diagnosis of this formation. These methods are computed tomography and ultrasonography. In addition to these, methods such as percutaneous cholangiography, MRCP and ERCP are also preferred. The doctor decides which methods should be applied at the diagnosis stage. There are different surgery options for this condition. However, the most appropriate form of treatment is a process that will ensure the most accurate transfer of bile to the intestine. If it is a simple bile leakage and there is no deterioration in the integrity of the biliary tract, the patient is followed up. However, in case of deterioration of the biliary tract, a new pathway is made that allows the bile to flow towards the intestine. Roux-en-Y hepatojejunostomy surgery is the most ideal method for this and should be performed by a specialist doctor.
Biliary Dyskinesia: Biliary dyskinesia is one of the disorders caused by functional deterioration of the gallbladder. Among the notable symptoms are pain in the upper part of the abdomen after a meal, indigestion and nausea. In addition, if the person consumes very fatty meals, these pains worsen. HIDA or hepatobiliary screening methods are used to detect this situation. With these scanning methods, the functions of the bile ducts and gallbladder are examined.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: Some hardening may occur as a result of injuries seen in the systems of the bile ducts, and this is called sclerosing cholangitis. In this disease, the cause of which is not fully known, full symptoms are not observed in general patients. However, in some cases, symptoms such as itching, high fever, jaundice and pain in the upper abdomen can be experienced. In addition, sclerosing cholangitis is a disease that increases the risk of liver cancer and it is important that its treatment is carried out promptly.
As with any disease, there are some risk factors to gallbladder problems. These risk factors are as follows:
- Gender (The rate of experiencing this situation is higher in women.)
- Age (Being 40 years or older also increases the risk.)
- Being above the ideal weight and obesity
- Experiencing rapid weight loss
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Medicines with high estrogen content
- Wrong eating habits
Although the symptoms of gallbladder disease are observed differently in each patient, they are generally as follows:
- Nausea or vomiting
- High fever or chills
- Prolonged diarrhea
- Jaundice or yellow-colored skin
- Light-colored stools and dark-colored urine
In gallbladder disorders that are treated late, the pain may spread to the abdomen and back. If these pains last longer than 4-5 hours, it is an indication of deformation in the gallbladder. In addition, the patient's excessive consumption of fatty foods can also cause digestive problems and extreme discomfort. Ultrasonography method is used in the diagnosis of this condition. Patients with common gallbladder disorders are as follows:
- People suffering from diabetes
- Persons aged 60 and over
- Patients using drugs containing estrogen
- Those with a family history of gallbladder disease
- Liver patients
- Obese people
There are some points that should be considered in order to prevent diseases in the gallbladder and to ensure a healthier life. These points are as follows:
- Early detection of a condition such as stone formation in the gallbladder and planning the necessary treatment process
- Not consuming excessively fatty meals
- Less consumption of pastries
- Focusing on fruit and vegetable consumption
- Reducing sugar and carbohydrate consumption
A balanced diet does not cause discomfort, but provides a helpful effect in maintaining the general health of the person. Foods that will increase gallbladder problems can be listed as trans fats, processed foods, white bread, sugar and refined carbohydrates. However, patients can consume foods rich in fiber and lead a healthier life if they take care to consume healthy fats.
“What are the symptoms of gallbladder disease?” As well as the question of how to diagnose this disease, are questions that are asked frequently. Assistance is obtained from imaging and laboratory tests in order to determine the type of biliary disease and to detect complications that may arise. The tests and imaging methods used in the diagnosis are as follows:
- Ultrasound and CT scans
- MRI and ERCP
- Blood tests
The most important treatment option for gallbladder disorders is surgery. In addition, drug therapy is also used.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If the person has pain in the right upper abdomen, fever, nausea or vomiting, or a difference in defecation that does not resolve in 4-5 hours, a doctor should be consulted urgently. Patients also ask "Does gallbladder disease cause gas?" Problems in the gallbladder can cause gas and bloating, but in case of more serious symptoms mentioned above, a doctor should be consulted immediately.