Gallbladder Symptoms For Women – What Does It Feel Like?
The little pear-shaped organ which stores our bile is not one that usually grabs attention- unless it is causing pain. Women, unfortunately, suffer from gallbladder disease far more than men do- up to 3 times more. Other risk factors for developing gallbladder symptoms can include being over the age of 40 and being overweight.
The main reason that women are believed to be an easier target for gallstone formation is that hormones play a significant role in their development. Women who take hormone replacement medication, oral contraceptives or who become pregnant will all experience a large influx of estrogen and this can trigger gallstones to form.
These little formation range from the size of grains of sand to large marbles and will fill the gallbladder to the point that it cannot function properly. Even when the gallbladder is completely full of stones, many people don’t experience gallbladder symptoms such as pain. These are known as silent stones and 20% or more women are assumed to have them without knowing it. It is when one of those small stones decides to shift and become lodged in the bile duct that severe pain can ensue.
Gallbladder pain may feel like aching in the upper abdomen after a meal, pain in the back or shoulder, heartburn, nausea or indigestion. Not surprisingly, many women mistake the symptoms of a gallbladder attack for a heart attack and head to the ER when symptoms strike.
Bile, a greenish-yellow fluid created by our liver and released in precise concentrations by our gallbladder, is necessary to effectively digest fats. Not only does bile emulsify the fats that we eat but it helps us to absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. These important nutrients affect everything from skin and bone health to heart and cognitive function. By the time a woman sees her doctor for gallstone treatment, she may have been suffering a variety of gallbladder symptoms for a long time without realizing it.
There are steps each woman can take to keep her digestive health on track before experiencing pain and digestive upset associated with gallbladder disease. If you do not need hormone medication, consider changing or discontinuing it.
Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and fiber. Add to that real, whole and healthy fats. Fats are not the enemy and in fact, are necessary for a healthy body and mind, but carefully selecting the good ones and eliminating the bad ones is key. Coconut oil, flax, hemp and olive oil along with small amounts of grass fed milk, cream and cheese are fats that your gallbladder and the rest of your body like. Nuts and seeds, fish and lean meat are also part of a healthy balanced diet.
Cut out the fried, processed and packaged foods as much as possible. Saturated and hydrogenated fats are destructive to your health and very hard on your gallbladder. Avoid chemically processed oils such as margarine, canola oil, safflower, peanut and “light” oils.
Lastly, adding liver and bile-friendly foods such as beets, artichokes, bitter herbs, lemon, apple cider vinegar and liver cleanses can help keep the bile thin, so sludge and stones cannot form.