Find Out About The Lesser Known Reasons For Gallbladder Pain
Gallbladder disease is an umbrella medical term used to describe a host of issues and symptoms. Gallbladder pain is often the first sign that an individual has a health problem related to their gallbladder function. Identifying the source of symptoms is not always straightforward.
Here are some of the causes and underlying conditions, which may lead to gallbladder dysfunction and disease.
- Rapid weight loss
- Excess cholesterol
- Lack of physical exercise
- High estrogen due to birth control medication or hormone supplementation
- Chronic heartburn
- Alcohol intake
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Atkin’s diet
- Being older than 40 years of age
- Ethnicity-Mexican, Native American
- Being female
- Anabolic steroid consumption
- Starvation diets/fasting
- Insulin resistance
- Certain medications such as antidepressants
- High cholesterol consumption
- Low fiber consumption
- A diet high in processed foods
The modern, American diet, which is low fiber and high fat, high in processed foods, high in white flour and sugar, along with a sedentary lifestyle, is the environment most likely to form gallstones. Add to these lifestyle choices, certain unavoidable factors like age, gender and heredity, and you have a recipe for gallbladder disease.
The most common culprit of gallbladder pain and irritation is gallstones, though gallstones may stay a lifetime in the gallbladder and cause no pain. It is estimated that somewhere between 80-90% of gallbladder attack cases and instances of gallbladder inflammation are due to these small, hard deposits of cholesterol or pigment collecting in the gallbladder.
Gallstones may range in size from a millimeter to a few inches. Smaller stones will frequently travel through bile ducts and out of the GI tract with no issue at all. However, occasionally a stone will become stuck and the related pain and pressure are excruciating. Gallbladder attacks, also known as biliary colic, are temporary, however, gallbladder pain related to cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation) can persist and become chronic.
Another, lesser known reason for discomfort of the gallbladder is sludge. Concentrated bile is meant to be flushed out regularly. Contractions, which are triggered by fat consumption are meant to be a regular occurrence, and a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables stimulate bile production, so it doesn’t become overly thick or stagnant.
If one consumes large amounts of cholesterol, or builds up excess due to hormonal factors, the bile contents may become thickened. Another cause for sludge is inactivity of the gallbladder. Many people attempt to lose weight through crash dieting, starvation diets or extreme low-fat diets. These can have a paradoxical effect of keeping bile stagnant and building up cholesterol which will forms stones or sludge. It can hurt just like passing a stone when the gallbladder attempts to push thickened fluid though a narrow opening. When the gallbladder walls are irritated and swollen, passage becomes even more difficult.
Other rare causes for gallbladder pain include cancer or tumors.
If you notice troubling gallbladder symptoms, there are steps you can take to improve its function and relieve the problem. Try switching to a gallbladder friendly diet which, among other changes, limits saturated, hydrogenated and trans fats, while increasing healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Refer to our gallbladder diet blogs for more healthy tips.
If your pain and symptoms aren’t resolved through diet and lifestyle changes, a cleansing gallstone treatment option should be considered.