A pear-shaped organ at the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, just below the liver, stores the bile, which breaks down and digests fats from the food that we eat. The liver produces the bile (in liquid form) and sends it to the gallbladder for storage so that the body can use this in the future.
When we eat, the gallbladder instantaneously releases the bile, and then the small intestine produces a hormone called cholecystokinin. And here’s where the breaking down of fats start.
This organ starts to have problems when bile or cholesterol hardens and become gallstones. Rey Salinel Jr., Infectious Disease doctor and Diabetes Specialist, says that when these gallstones obstruct the flow of bile at the ducts, the patient will experience severe pain at the lower part of the right rib or at the abdominal area.
Cholelithiasis or gallstones are hard deposits usually caused by cholesterol. Salinel told Radyo Klinika that the bile stored in the gallbladder which is used for the digestion in the small intestines, becomes gallstones if the bile has too much cholesterol or bilirubin. It also develops as hard deposits if the gallbladder cannot release the bile.
Most people with cholelithiasis don’t have symptoms but some experience the following: very painful abdomen, vomiting, nausea, and difficulty in breathing or heartburn. If the bile ducts become blocked, this can cause inflammation of the gallbladder or infection.
The pain usually becomes unbearable when the patient eats fatty and greasy food. The patient could also have jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes, and also dark urine and light stool.
When the gallbladder becomes inflamed or diseased, or the stones have migrated to the pancreas, thus causing pancreatitis, the doctor would recommend surgical removal of the organ.
Can the body cope without the gallbladder? Dr. Salinel says yes. The bile from the liver will go directly to the bile ducts, on to the small intestine. But the patient will be advised to refrain from eating greasy or fatty food.
Women are more likely to have gallstones than men, and the weight plays a major role. Those who are overweight or obese and who often eat fatty foods and doesn’t have that much fiber in their diets are oftentimes the victims of this condition.
Dr. Salinel recommends a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains like brown rice, lean meat, chicken and fish, low-fat dairy products and yoghurt to avoid developing gallstones.
Dr, Salinel holds clinic at Hi-Precision Diagnostics Taft Avenue, Manila and Balbidos Clinical Laboratory in Pasay. Contact him at 0942.471.4353.
Radyo Klinika is a health and wellness program on Dwiz 882 KHZ AM which airs every Tuesday to Friday, 7:00 – 8:00 pm. It streams live on Facebook via the page: Dwiz 882. It is the recipient of the 2016 KBP Golden Dove Award for Best Radio Magazine Program. For inquiries and request for guesting, please contact the author at: email@example.com or at 0917.515.4559.
Image credits: Sebastian Kaulitzki | Dreamstime.com