If you are experiencing sharp pains in your upper abdomen, especially after eating foods high in fat, it’s important to see a physician and get checked for gallbladder disease. Though potentially fatal, gallbladder disease is usually easily treatable, especially if caught early.
The gallbladder is a small, sac-like organ located beneath the liver which aids in the digestion of certain kinds of fats. There are several diseases that can affect the gallbladder, the most common of which are gallstones and gallbladder inflammation, clinically referred to as Cholecystitis.
Gallstones, like kidney stones, are small, crystalline formations, which occur within the gallbladder. Gallstones can go undetected in the body for long periods of time. If they grow to be about 8mm in diameter or larger, however, they can begin to produce symptoms such as sharp pains in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, patients notice that their skin takes on a yellowish hue. Often, discomfort occurs after the patient has eaten foods with a high fat content. The pain occurs from the gallstone blocking the gallbladder’s duct. Commonly pain subsides within about half an hour, indicating that the stone has moved away from the duct, but if the pain does not go away, the gallstone is usually lodged inside the duct. This is a potentially fatal problem and requires immediate surgery to remove the gallstone. Cholecystitis often occurs when the gallbladder has become irritated by one or more stones.
There are several gallbladder treatments available for those who suffer from chronic gallstones and Cholecystitis. If the problem is reoccurring, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the gallbladder from the body. The body can function normally without a gallbladder and the patient usually doesn’t need to make any big life changes after losing a gallbladder other than avoiding overly fatty foods. If the gallbladders are not life threatening, the patient may choose to take an oral dose of ursodeoxycholic acid, which can dissolve the stones.
There are non-traditional treatments for gallstones as well. The most common is called a “gallbladder flush” or a “gallbladder cleanse.” It is thought that drinking a large amount of apple juice and lemon juice will help the body to eliminate gallstones during bowel movements due to the pectin in the fruits. Other people prefer to drink extract from an Amazonian plant called the “Chanca Piedra” because of its ability to help the body maintain gallbladder health.