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Gallbladder Problems – Threats to Gallbladder Health

When you eat fatty foods, your gallbladder is the organ that breaks it up and helps metabolize it. The gallbladder secretes a substance called bile to accomplish this. Bile is vital because nothing else can break down fats you eat to make it go through the intestines. Anyone who is having digestive discomfort may very well be suffering from gallbladder problems.

There are four common reasons why the gallbladder can stop working properly. They are:

  • an infected area in the gallbladder,
  • an obstacle in the gallbladder,
  • irritation, or
  • gallstones.

For those who have severe issues, the only recourse may be an operation and full removal of the gallbladder. The older you get, the more common gallbladder issues become.

Gallstones

There are two basic kinds of gallstones

Cholesterol Stones – Most people get gallstones because they eat a high cholesterol diet. When there is too much cholesterol in the gallbladder, it turns hard and becomes stones that range in size from minute to golf-ball-sized.

Pigment Stones – These are small, dark stones that come from a substance called bilirubin, which is part of the bile that’s stored in the gallbladder. Pigment stones form when red blood cells break down.

Most people who get gallstones are going to get the cholesterol stones but pigment stones are not uncommon. Some may even have both.

Gallbladder Attacks

When the gallbladder becomes irritated, a variety of problems arise. A “gallbladder attack” is one of the most common. The medical name for a gallbladder attack is cholecystitis.

A gallbladder attack occurs when so much cholesterol builds up that the gallbladder is overwhelmed and becomes irritated. Those who have gallbladder attacks are going to feel a great deal of pain on the right side of the abdomen or chest.

Gallbladder Cancer

There are two main points where gallbladder cancer can be found. The actual organ itself, or the duct leading to the gallbladder where there bile is located. Both the duct and the organ can become cancerous.

Gallbladder cancer is relatively rare, but when it occurs, it attacks the body almost quickly and ferociously. If left untreated, the liver and other internal organs can become affected as well. The medical term for this type of cancer is adenocarcinoma. When the cancer is located in the bile duct, it is called cholangiocarcinoma.

Even though you don’t need the gallbladder to live (it is sometimes completely removed due to gallbladder problems), the gallbladder should be respected. Anyone who believes they have a gallbladder issue should see their physician immediately.

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