Do you have a stomachache, feel nauseated, and have you experienced intestinal flu symptoms that just won’t disappear? Sharp pain on your right side? Bloating, gas and general fatigue? You might have gallstones or gallbladder inflammation. Check out this article for more information about gallstones, gallbladder disease and what causes it.
What is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small, small sac-shaped organ beneath the liver. The gallbladder functions as a storage place where bile is kept after secretion by the liver and before release into the intestines. When food enters the intestines your body sends signals to the gallbladder to contract and the bile mixes with the food. Bile is essential for digestion and absorption of fats (such as cheese, butter, and oil) and fat-soluble vitamins. It helps us digest fats in the small intestine. Many body waste products are also eliminated from the body by secretion into bile and pass out of the body through the feces or bowel movement.
What Are Gallstones?
Gallstones are small, hard crystalline masses. They form abnormally in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Gallstones are created from bile pigments, cholesterol, and calcium salts. They can go undetected for many years or may cause severe pain and blockage of the bile duct. Gallstones can cause inflammation and thickening or abnormalities in the gallbladder wall. Of serious concern is the possibility of a gallstone blocking the bile duct. This is considered a medical emergency.
What is Gallbladder Disease?
Chronic inflammation of the gallbladder is regarded as gallbladder disease, which is known as cholecystitis. The most common cause of inflammation is gallstones. Chronic inflammation can result in periodic symptoms and pain that ranges from mild to severe, or can result in general adbominal flu-like symptoms that are experienced after each meal (particularly meals high in fat or greasy foods), or periodic episodes of sharp pains, nausea, and/or vomiting. Gallbladder disease can be misdiagnosed since symptoms are similar to lesser gastrointestinal problems such indigestion, or irritable bowel syndrome.
What are Symptoms of Gallstones or Gallbladder Disease?
Symptoms of gallstones or gallbladder disease can include the following:
- severe abdominal pain
- right shoulder pain
- back pain
- pain after eating
- pain from breathing or shortness of breath
- chest pain (angina)
- gas and flatulence
- shaking with chills
- tenderness of right side of abdomen (to touch)
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- feces often lighter color, like clay
What is the Common Treatment?
Gallbladder disease left untreated can result in a medical emergency. It is important to check with your trusted physician or health practitioner. The most common treatment is gallbladder surgery. You can live a comfortable life without a gallbladder. At one time the gallbladder was a necessary functioning part of the body, but the body can function without it. There are medications that can be taken to dissolve gallstones but this is usually temporary and they find that the gallstones commonly will reappear. Surgery can be done laparoscopically.
Are There Natural Treatments?
The most effective natural treatment is a change in diet. Change in diet is not considered a substitute for surgery. After gallbladder surgery it is wise to eat non-greasy foots low in fat, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. People who have diabetes or are pregnant, have a higher risk of complications from gallbladder attacks and should use choleretic (bile-stimulating) herbs with caution. Milk thistle and dandelion root are safe for pregnant women. Always consult with your trusted health care provider before you change your diet, or take any new antioxidantsor supplements. The following diet may be helpful after gallbladder surgery or to reduce symptoms, and prevent aggravation to the gallbladder
- foods high in iron
- B vitamin foods
- whole grains
- dark leafy greens (spinach and kale)
- bell pepper
- avoid white breads, white rice, pasta, sugar
- foods high in fiber
- no tobacco
- no packed cookies, crackers, etc.
- no margarine
- avoid caffeine
- no alcohol
- cold-water fish
- healthy oils (olive oil, coconut oil)
- no transfats
- vitamin C for immune support
- vitamin D for immune support
- decaffeinated green tea
- milk thistle
Other Natural Treatments
It might be helpful to consider other forms of natural treatments of pain and indigestion, such as homeopathic remedies (such as colosynthis, cheliodonium, and lycopodium) to help with abdominal pain, light physical exercise 3-5 times a week, getting tested for food allergies, acupuncture to reduce spasms and control pain, and/or a heat pack to reduce swelling. None of these treatments are recommended to be substituted for the care of a trusted physician. Early treatment usually ends symptoms and recurrence, however symptoms can reappear.
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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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