You may not think much about your gallbladder until it starts causing problems. The organ located on the right side of your abdomen stores small amounts of bile that are released into your small intestine after you eat to help you break down fats.
This is important, but you can live a healthy life without your gallbladder. This is a positive thing if you’re struggling with gallbladder disease, which can lead to a need for gallbladder removal.
At Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, Dr. Sreelatha Reddy diagnoses and treats gallbladder disease with an understanding of how painful it can be. If you’re wondering if your own symptoms may be gallbladder-related, read on.
Problems with your gallbladder almost always derive from gallstones. Made up of hard deposits, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pingpong ball. And once you have gallstones, blockages and infection can occur. These symptoms indicate gallbladder disease
While no one knows the exact cause of gallstones, they seem to be linked with excess amounts of cholesterol or the natural chemical bilirubin in your bile, or having a gallbladder that doesn’t empty properly.
Having diabetes, carrying excess weight, or leading a sedentary lifestyle may also increase your risk. These risks also increase with age, especially after age 40.
Sometimes gallstones can be dissolved with medications. If not, you may benefit from endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP. During this procedure, a thin tube and instruments are inserted through your mouth to remove gallstones.
In severe cases, meaning bile can’t circulate normally, Dr. Reddy may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder.
Common signs that you may need gallbladder surgery include:
Your abdomen may also feel tender or painful, especially after eating.
Signs of a gallbladder emergency include pain so intense that you can’t get comfortable or sit still, yellowing of your skin and eyes, or a high fever accompanied by chills. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
If you’re at risk for gallbladder disease, we may recommend lifestyle changes, such as slowly losing excess weight, eating more high-fiber foods, and not skipping meals. While these steps can’t replace surgery, they may help prevent the need for surgery if you start early on.
To learn more about gallbladder problems or find out if surgery may be ideal for you, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. or request an appointment through our website.