Ask anyone to name as many organs in their body as they can, and it’s not likely that the gallbladder will make it to the top of many, if any, people’s list. Assuming it makes it onto the list at all. But for anyone who has experienced the intense pain of gallbladder disease or gallstones, it’s likely they will never forget what the gallbladder is or what it does.
Per wholelifenutrition.net, there has been an increase of 20 percent of cases of gallbladder disease over the last 30 or so years. Estimates are that 20-25 million Americans are suffering from gallbladder-related problems – primarily gallstones – leading to 1.8 million annual hospital visits and more than $6 billion in related health-care costs.
The gallbladder – which occasionally can be found spelled as two words – is a diminutive (about four inches in diameter, per wholelifenutrition.net), sac-shaped organ (elsewhere described as pear-shaped) located beneath the liver, where its main function is to store bile, per medicinenet.com. Bile is a key substance in our digestive system, which plays a key role in the digestive process by breaking down fat from the food you have consumed as it passes into your intestine.
Per medicinenet.com, your gallbladder also pushes bile into your small intestine, which aids your bloodstream when it comes to the absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
What Causes Gallbladder Disease and Pain?
If any of the processes described above are disrupted, you might be subject to various issues and infections related to gallbladder disease. The most common symptom is inflammation-induced pain most often found in the upper-right portion of your abdomen. Other common symptoms related to gallbladder disease can include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and dark urine, per healthline.com, as well as pain behind your right shoulder blade.
The pain can be very intense and last for hours, which is why, combined with the other symptoms, gallbladder issues have often been mistaken for a heart attack. In any event, if you are suffering from any or all of these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately, or even go to your nearest emergency room.
There are an assortment of gallbladder diseases/pain, and they include the following:
- Biliary colic. Otherwise known as intermittent duct blockage, this is typically associated with the pain in the areas of the abdomen and behind the right shoulder.
- Cholecystitis, which involves gallbladder tissue inflammation secondary to duct blockage, per medicinenet.com.
- Acalculous cholecystitis – this is similar to cholecystitis but can also be the result of other problems such as trauma or burns, and symptoms can be quite severe, per medicinenet.com.
- Pancreatitis. Caused by gallstones blocking the pancreatic duct.
- Ascending cholangitis. A medical condition that can also be accompanied by fever, jaundice, low blood pressure (hypotension), and confusion.
What About Gallstones?
You’ve heard of kidney stones and the intense pain that passing one can cause. Well, gallstones can bring about a similar fate, with intense pain lasting 20 minutes to four hours of what health.howstuffworks.com describes as “indescribable agony,” adding that “Gallstones become a problem when they get pushed out of the gallbladder and into the tube that connects the liver and the small intestine.”
Possible Home Remedies for Gallbladder Disease/Gallstones
Be sure to discuss any sort of related treatment with your physician first.
- Turmeric/curcumin. Curcumin is the main ingredient found in turmeric, and its anti-inflammatory and healing properties work to promote the gallbladder’s production of bile while helping the gallbladder to efficiently empty itself.
- Magnesium. This mineral can also benefit the gallbladder’s emptying efficiency. Per healthline.com, it can also help alleviate gallbladder-related pain and spasms. Also note that a magnesium deficiency in your body can raise your risk of gallstones.
- Coffee. Per health.howstuffworks.com, two cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of gallstone formation.
- Red bell pepper. Its abundance of vitamin C can help thwart the formation of gallstones.
- Fruits and vegetables. As you might have guessed. These food groups provide a wide assortment of health benefits, and the gallbladder can benefit from their consumption.
- Perform an ‘elimination diet.’ Per wholelifenutrition.net, such diets can be very effective therapy for various gallbladder diseases, but this is definitely worth a consultation with your physician first.
- Lose weight. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have pegged obesity as a key contributor to ramping up your risk for gallstones.
- Exercise. This can help you in your weight-loss mission and also help prevent the formation of gallstones.
- Heated compress. The application of heat to areas such as your abdomen and/or behind your right shoulder can be soothing and alleviate the pain of gallbladder issues.
- Apple cider vinegar. Its anti-inflammatory characteristics can relieve gallbladder pain, per healthline.com. Ditto for peppermint tea, which can also enhance digestion and alleviate nausea associated with gallbladder problems.