The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located on the right side of the body just below the liver. Its role is to aid in the digestion of fats by storing bile and releasing it into the small intestines. The struggle with this organ, however, is that it is helpful but not essential. In other words, if the gallbladder develops persistent problems, it can be removed completely and not replaced.
Not all gallbladder issues warrant surgical removal, and not everyone presents symptoms of a problematic gallbladder. Therefore, it is important that you see your physician for yearly exams as well as discuss details of any symptoms you may be having.
Gallstones Signal a Problem
Gallbladder problems are not unusual. There are many factors that can result in inflammation of the gallbladder and the development of gallstones. Gallstones are hard deposits of digestive fluid. They can be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Some patients have multiple gallstones while others may only have a single gallstone. In all cases, gallstones signal trouble because they can cause blockage within the bile duct of your gallbladder. When this duct is blocked, bile can no longer circulate and cholecystitis can develop.
Cholecystitis refers to inflammation of the gallbladder caused by the accumulation or buildup of bile. Unfortunately, this condition rarely goes unnoticed. Cholecystitis is known for the following painful and disruptive symptoms, which often indicate that you need your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy):
- Sudden and severe pain at the upper right or center abdomen
- Tenderness of the abdomen
- Pain after eating
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
The stakes are high if you ignore this condition and symptoms of gallbladder trouble. In fact, if left untreated, an infection could develop or your gallbladder could tear or burst.
Treatment for Gallstones
In some cases, your gallstones can be dissolved and treated by changing your diet or taking certain medications. Surgical removal of the gallbladder, however, is the most common line of treatment. If gallbladder removal has been suggested for you, you can trust that it is a common, straightforward and low-risk procedure.
At the office of Dr. Brent Michael, we are fully equipped to diagnose and treat gallstones. However, we do our best to help patients avoid disruptive gallbladder issues, which can begin with identifying your risk factors for gallstones. WebMD also reports that “a sensible diet is the best way to prevent gallstones.” This includes avoiding crash diets or a very low intake of calories while also increasing fiber intake and decreasing excess fats.
While your body can certainly function just fine without your gallbladder, this doesn’t mean you can ignore symptoms and problems related to this digestive organ. If you are concerned you have gallstones or feel sick after eating high-fat foods, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Brent Michael in Santa Monica. Dr. Michael is a reputable primary care physician who puts comfort and compassion as a top priority.