Why Do These Symptoms Occur
After we eat there are chemical and nerve signals from our intestinal tract which cause the gallbladder to contract. When there are no stones present, the gallbladder empties its bile freely. However, when stones are present, the stones can block the exit of the gallbladder at the cystic duct. This leads to secretion of water into the gallbladder to relieve the obstruction by increasing the force of contraction. However, because the exit is blocked, this leads to distention of the gallbladder, which in turn causes the epigastric and or substernal pain.
Continued distention of the gallbladder leads to reduced blood flow to the wall of the gallbladder and to inflammation. This is associated with pain in the right side of the upper abdomen. The nausea, vomiting and bloating are a non-specific intestinal response to these insults.
Treatments For A Bad Gallbladder
If your gallbladder pain is mild, you can try to alleviate your symptoms at home. However, if you feel the need to visit your doctor, they will first diagnose your gallbladder problem before creating a treatment plan.
Your doctor will determine your treatment plan depending on your gallbladder problem. Some treatments include:
Over-the-counter pain medication
Your doctor may recommend trying over-the-counter pain medication first, such as ibuprofen , to help alleviate pain from a gallstone or other problem.
Prescription pain medication
Depending on the severity of your gallbladder problems, your doctor may prescribe a prescription medication like hydrocodone or morphine.
If your gallstones are too large to pass out of your body on their own, your doctor may perform surgery to remove them. In some cases, lithotripsy, the process of using shock-waves to break up gallstones and other masses, can be used. If your gallbladder is rigid or tough from scar tissue, your doctor may have to remove it.
*SEER = Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results
Understanding the numbers
- These numbers apply only to the stage of cancer when it is first diagnosed.
- These numbers dont take everything into account.
- People now being diagnosed with gallbladder cancer may have a better outlook than these numbers show.
Chest And Abdominal X
Symptomatic cholecystitis will sometimes show stones on abdominal X-rays if the stones contain calcium. An X-ray of the chest may show pleurisy or pneumonia.
However, X-rays arent the best test for identifying gallbladder disease. Theyre often used to rule out other potential causes of pain thats not related to gallstones, the gallbladder, or the liver.
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Diagnosing A Bad Gallbladder
When you see a doctor for gallbladder problems, they will first run blood tests to determine if theres inflammation or infection in your bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, or liver. They may then run imaging tests to see your gallbladder, including an ultrasound or a computed tomography scan.
For further diagnosis, your doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging to see inside your bile ducts.
Get To Know Your Gallbladder
Located on the right side of the abdomen under your liver, the gallbladder helps promote digestion. The shape of a pear, this pouch holds bile, a fluid that helps break down fat and food. The gallbladder helps with digestion by controlling the bile that flows to your small intestine. However, while the gallbladder performs an important function, it is not essential. For this reason, it is especially important to acknowledge signs of the organs distress because should it pose a threat to your health, your gallbladder can be removed.
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Is It Ibs Or Gallbladder
Because IBS is a functional disorder, many people with IBS lack full confidence in their diagnosis, ad wonder whether other digestive disorders may be present. Because some people with IBS experience nausea and because abdominal pain can radiate, it’s reasonable to wonder whether you may also have gallbladder problems.
The best place to address your concerns is by having a conversation with your healthcare provider, who can explore your symptoms and order appropriate diagnostic tests.
Treatment For Occasional Constipation
- Take ¼ to 1 tsp of olive oil 4x a day for four days. Take three days off. Repeat.
- Pre- and probiotics
- Castor oil packs over the lower abdomen
- Eliminating food allergens like dairy, wheat, and other glutinous grains
- Digestive supplements to improve bile flow, HCl, enzymes, and bile salts with taurine, and bitters designed for bile and gallbladder
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Gallbladder Problems And Your Gut
If you have a poorly functioning gallbladder you may develop the following problems:
- Pale colored stools
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome which can vary from constipation to diarrhea
- A deficiency of fat soluble vitamins , which can lead to osteoporosis and a weak immune system
- Discomfort in the right upper abdomen which can refer pain to the right shoulder
Normal healthy feces or stools are brown in color and this is due to the pigments in bile, namely stercobilin and urobilin. These dark pigments are derived from the breakdown of hemoglobin, which is the red pigment released into the blood stream when old red blood cells are broken down in the spleen. Bile also contains water, bile salts, bilirubin, cholesterol, fatty acids, lecithin and minerals.
To make healthy bile you need healthy liver cells. The liver cells make bile and secrete bile into tiny bile ducts which join up into big bile ducts, which take the bile to the small intestine. The gallbladder is a muscular sack that stores bile. When you eat a meal, the gallbladder squeezes a big spurt of bile into the small intestine so you can digest fats in your food. If you do not produce enough bile when you eat you will not digest and absorb fats. Bile is an important way that your liver excretes toxins and cholesterol from the body and you need to produce plenty of bile to do this.
Note that having your gallbladder out may not help any of your symptoms and may make your digestion much worse!
Abdominal Pain And Distension
Your first clue that somethingâs wrong with your gallbladder will usually be intense pain in the right side of your middle or upper abdomen. This pain can be constant or intermittent, but it will come on suddenly. It may then spread to the center of your abdomen, your right shoulder, or your back between your shoulder blades. The pain could be more severe after eating, especially if youâve consumed a high-fat meal.
Abdominal pain is a symptom of many ailments, from appendicitis to irritable bowel syndrome. So if this is the only symptom youâre experiencing, gallbladder disease may not be the cause. Regardless, if you have abdominal pain for more than five consecutive hours, you should seek urgent medical attention.
If you do have gallbladder disease, you may experience symptoms of gallbladder disease such as abdominal distension and bloating, as your gallbladder is likely inflamed.
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Inflammation Of The Gallbladder
If a bile duct becomes permanently blocked, it can lead to a build-up of bile inside the gallbladder. This can cause the gallbladder to become infected and inflamed.
The medical term for inflammation of the gallbladder is acute cholecystitis.
- pain in your upper abdomen that travels towards your shoulder blade
- a high temperature
- a rapid heartbeat
An estimated 1 in 10 people with acute cholecystitis also experience jaundice.
Acute cholecystitis is usually first treated with antibiotics to settle the infection and then keyhole surgery to remove the gallbladder.
The operation can be more difficult when performed as an emergency, and there’s a higher risk of it being converted to open surgery.
Sometimes a severe infection can lead to a gallbladder abscess . Antibiotics alone don’t always treat these and they may need to be drained.
Occasionally, a severely inflamed gallbladder can tear, leading to inflammation of the inside lining of the abdomen .
If this happens, you may need antibiotics given directly into a vein , and surgery may be required to remove a section of the lining if part of it becomes severely damaged.
Read more about acute cholecystitis.
Side Effects From Other Medicines
Constipation can be a side effect of many types of drugs. Some of these drugs help control cancer symptoms or reduce side effects from treatments.
Your doctor or nurse will also prescribe medicine to help prevent constipation.
The most common drugs to cause constipation in people with cancer are:
- painkillers, especially morphine based drugs
- anti sickness medicines
Other drugs that can cause constipation are:
- some blood pressure medicines
- vitamin supplements, such as iron and calcium
- drugs to stop fits
- drugs for Parkinsons disease
- drugs to make you pass urine
- some medicines for indigestion
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Long Term Use Of Laxatives
Laxatives and stool softeners are medicines for constipation. You can often buy these over the counter without a prescription. But it is very important to use them properly.
Taking laxatives regularly over a long period of time can make the bowel become lazy and not work properly. They can also damage the nerve cells in the bowel making it difficult for you to push stools out.
Always let your doctor know when you take drugs to help your bowels. You might not actually need them and there are other ways of helping you to have regular bowel motions. For example, changing your diet, drinking more liquid or increasing the amount of exercise you do.
Surgery To Your Tummy
After surgery to your bowel, your bowel muscles might be weaker. This may be temporary, but sometimes it can be permanent this depends on the type of operation you have.
After this type of surgery, there are several factors that can cause constipation:
- weak muscles may make it more difficult to push the poo out
- your tummy might be too sore for you to push out the poo
- the drugs you have as an anaesthetic or for pain can also cause constipation
- you may not be able to eat or drink for a day or two after your operation, which makes constipation more likely
- occasionally, some major pelvic operations can damage the nerves that help the bowel to work properly
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Common Reasons To Have Your Gallbladder Removed:
- Extreme inflammation
- Gallbladder is not working properly
- Gallbladder has stopped working
- Gallstones which cause symptoms
Some people may have gallstones that do not cause symptoms. These gallstones are often found during other medical tests and procedures. Since silent gallstones are asymptomatic, they do not generally need to be removed unless they start causing symptoms.
When To See A Doctor
Anyone with gallbladder symptoms should seek medical attention. Mild, intermittent pain that goes away on its own does not need immediate attention. However, patients with this type of pain should make an appointment with their doctor to be examined further.
If the symptoms are more severe and include the following, a patient should be seen immediately:
- upper-right quadrant pain that does not go away within 5 hours
- fever, nausea, or vomiting
- changes in bowel movement and urination
This combination of symptoms can indicate a serious infection or inflammation that needs immediate treatment.
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Can All Patients Receive A Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is not an option for everyone. People who have previous upper abdominal surgery or certain pre-existing health conditions may need an alternate treatment method.
LC is also not viable if the gallbladder is infected, extremely inflamed, or if the gallstones are very large.
Yellow Poop Get The Scoop
There are many conditions that can cause yellow diarrhea or stool, but here are some of the most common:
- Steatorrhea Fat in the stool, known as steatorrhea, can cause a greasy texture, yellow color, and foul odor. Fat absorption depends on bile, so if something blocks bile from entering your bowels, your stool could appear yellow.
- Celiac disease People who have celiac disease are unable to digest gluten because of damage in their intestines. Celiac disease prevents nutrients and fats from being absorbed into the body, which results in an excess amount of fat in the stool.
- Cholestasis Cholestasis prevents bile from flowing from the liver into the intestine. Lack of bile in the stool can cause it to be light-colored or yellow.
- Liver disorders If there is a problem with your liver, the bile canals inside of it become narrowed and bile production is decreased. Some liver conditions that cause yellow stool include cirrhosis and hepatitis.
- Gallbladder disease There are several gallbladder disorders that can cause yellow diarrhea or stool, such as cholecystitis , cholangitis , and gallstones.
Yellow stool can also be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, and parasites.
If you have yellow stool or yellow diarrhea, it could be caused by one of these conditions and require prompt medical treatment. A simple physical examination and stool sample can help your physician determine whether or not your yellow stool is cause for concern
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What Are My Chances Of More Symptoms
The National Cooperative Gallstone Study was performed in the early 1980’s to evaluate this question as well as other. The results of these studies revealed that 70% of patients with previous symptoms had at least one more episode of pain during a two year period if the gallstones were not treated. Furthermore, approximately 50% had severe attacks and 20% had more than one attack. Therefore, you can expect attacks in the future if you have had them in the past. The question is when they will occur. Unfortunately, they often will occur when you least want them, Murphy’s Law.
Changes In Stool And Urine Color
If a gallbladder dysfunction causes very little or no bile to be secreted, you may notice that your urine and stool change color. The lack of bile could be due to a blockage in the bile duct or another gallbladder issue.
According to gastroenterologist, Dr. Ali A. Siddiqui, a backup of bile in the liver can turn your urine brown. Depending on where the blockage occurs, you may also experience symptoms of pancreatitis.11
Signs of an acute gallbladder attack could also result in passing gray-colored or whitish stool. Dr. John P. Cunha on eMedicineHealth says that a lack of bile in the digestive system can turn stool clay-colored. The light-colored stool happens over time as the gallbladder disease progresses.12
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How Is Bile Acid Malabsorption Diagnosed
The main investigation for a definitive diagnosis of bile acid malabsorption is a nuclear medicine test called the SeHCAT scan. An artificial bile acid SeHCAT is swallowed via a capsule or drink and a first scan is carried out on the same day to establish how much artificial bile acid is in the body the starting amount. One week later a second scan will show how much has been retained. The overall result can establish how much bile acid is lost from the body and whether malabsorption is taking place. The amount of radiation in the test is very small and extra precautions are not necessary. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe treatment instead of testing as the response to medication can make the diagnosis difficult .
Urinary Incontinence After Gallbladder Surgery
Some people report experiencing urinary incontinence after gallbladder removal. However, the reason for this was stress, aptly known as stress urinary incontinence, from the procedure. This is a common type of urinary incontinence and consulting your doctor about treatment plans is recommended.
Take our Urinary Incontinence Self-Assessment
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Ignoring The Urge To Open Your Bowels
Some people find it difficult to open their bowels away from the comfort of their own home. Others find that a busy lifestyle stops them opening their bowels.
Research has shown people who ignore the urge to open their bowels are more at risk of constipation. Water is drawn out of the poo as it sits in the rectum and so it gets harder and more difficult to pass. It is always best to listen to your body. Go to the toilet when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.
What Are Gallstones
The gallbladder is a small organ shaped like a pear that most people know for the trouble it can cause. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile. When functioning normally, the gallbladder is full before a meal. When digestion starts, the gallbladder releases the stored bile into the small intestine as it deflates and flattens itself. Gallstones occur when bile, the fluid produced by the liver that aids in the breakdown of fats and the absorption of some vitamins during digestion, becomes hardened. If the stones are small, and most are, they do not typically cause problems. When stones grow to be larger, they can block the ducts. As the gallbladder contracts to release bile into the system, the stones cause pain as they obstruct the duct. A gallbladder attack, as it is commonly called, is the result.
If you think gallstones are the cause of the symptoms you are experiencing, discuss your symptoms with your care provider. To diagnose gallstones, blood work and an ultrasound will likely be ordered to view the gallbladder and surrounding systems. If it is determined that gallstones are present and causing issues, the most effective treatment is surgical removal of the gallbladder known as a cholecystectomy. This is a routinely performed laparoscopic or robotic surgical procedure. When the gallbladder is removed, bile simply flows directly from the liver to the small intestine, allowing digestion to continue as normal, minus painful gallstone symptoms.
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What You Can Do
Lifestyle changes can help keep your gallbladder shipshape.
Load up on fiber and cut back on sugar and carbs. Problems with your gallbladder often can be traced back to too much cholesterol — a fat from meat, dairy, and other animal sources. But donât be afraid of good unsaturated fats from foods like olive and canola oil, salmon and other fatty fish, and nuts.
Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking and other moderate workouts every day.
Keep a healthy weight. If youâre heavy, aim to lose pounds slowly and avoid fasting. Otherwise, it can make the level of cholesterol in your gallbladder go up.