The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that sits on the upper right of the abdomen, just under the liver. As part of the digestive system, the gallbladder’s function is to store bile produced by the liver and release it into the small intestine to help break down fats in the food we eat.
Unfortunately, the gallbladder can become diseased when there is inflammation, irritation or a blockage in the organ. There are different types of gallbladder diseases, most of which cause symptoms like abdominal pain and nausea. However, certain risk factors and diet and lifestyle choices could increase the risk of gallbladder disease. We’ll discuss these risk factors and ways to prevent gallbladder diseases from occurring.
Types of Gallbladder Diseases
There are different types of diseases and conditions that can affect the gallbladder. These are some of them:
Gallstones: Gallstones are one of the most common gallbladder diseases, and they occur when the bile in the gallbladder solidifies into tiny stones. Gallstones can cause inflammation in the gallbladder when it passes by the gallbladder wall or get stuck in a bile duct. When a gallstone gets stuck, you may experience excruciating abdominal pain, which should be treated immediately.
Cholecystitis: Cholecystitis, or gallbladder infection, occurs when there is inflammation in the gallbladder, usually caused by a gallstone. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and jaundice.
Gallbladder polyps: Polyps are noncancerous growths that can form along the gallbladder wall. They don’t usually cause discomfort or symptoms and are typically only found during unrelated medical examinations. However, if a polyp grows larger over time, it has a higher risk of becoming cancerous.
Gallbladder cancer: Gallbladder cancer is a rare condition that occurs from the abnormal growth of cancer cells in the gallbladder. Symptoms of gallbladder cancer include abdominal pain, weight loss and jaundice.
Who Is At Risk Of Gallbladder Disease?
As individuals grow older, their likelihood of developing gallbladder disease rises. For individuals over 60 years old, the risk increases further. Women also have a greater risk than men of developing gallbladder disease, particularly during pregnancy, menopause, or after using hormone replacement therapy.
Additionally, having a family history of gallbladder disease can place you at a greater risk of developing gallbladder disease.
Diet, Lifestyle & Medical Conditions That Increase The Risk Of Gallbladder Disease
Apart from your age, sex and family history, certain diets, lifestyle, and medical conditions may also increase your risk of getting gallbladder disease.
Individuals who consume foods high in fat and cholesterol have a higher risk of gallbladder disease. A high-fat and cholesterol diet can strain the gallbladder and increase the possibility of developing gallstones. Some examples of such foods include fried products and processed meats.
Diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) could also increase the risk for gallbladder disease. IBD is a collective term for two medical conditions — Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis, which result from chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Diabetes also tends to increase the risk of developing gallbladder disease as it is closely related to obesity. Patients with diabetes and obesity tend to produce more cholesterol in the bile, which can form into gallstones.
Rapid Weight Loss
Rapid weight loss from weight loss surgery of a calorie-deficit diet can also increase the risk of developing gallbladder disease. When the body loses weight rapidly, the liver releases large amounts of cholesterol into the bile. The buildup of cholesterol leads to the formation of gallstones.
How Can You Prevent Gallbladder Disease?
As obesity and a high-fat diet can increase the likelihood of developing gallbladder disease, it’s best to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Instead of high cholesterol and fatty foods, change your eating habits with a high-fibre diet full of vegetables and leafy greens. For a more active lifestyle, start by going on a 30-minute walk or jog daily.
On top of that, certain lifestyle choices like smoking significantly increase the risk of gallbladder disease. Quitting the habit is a great way of preventing possible diseases in the gallbladder.
A healthy diet, an active lifestyle and managing existing health conditions are the best way to prevent possible gallbladder diseases. However, if you suspect you may have gallstones or a gallbladder infection, there are treatment options available to ease your discomfort.
If you’re looking for a trusted doctor who can answer your questions about gallbladder diseases and treatment options, consider scheduling an assessment with our team to understand your health better. Contact us directly via WHATSAPP or call our clinic for assistance.