The condition of fatty liver is often associated with gall bladder disease such as gall bladder inflammation or gallstones.
Gall bladder problems can be helped and often completely resolved. There is no need to panic and rush into surgery for gall bladder disease, unless you are in severe acute pain or your doctor suspects that you have gall bladder cancer. Indeed having your gall bladder surgically removed may not relieve your abdominal pain.
According to a study published in The British Journal of General Practice 2004;54:574-79, it was found that having the gall bladder surgically removed (cholecystectomy) does not always relieve upper abdominal pain even in those with proven gall stones.
After cholecystectomy, one third of the patients saw their doctor again with the same pain they had suffered prior to the surgery. What a disappointing result for these patients. After 12 months most of the patients who had a cholecystectomy were pain free, but so were 63% of the patients who had kept their gall stones.
In this study 45% of the patients with “biliary pain” did not have gall stones. Gall stones are very common but they are not always the cause of the patient’s pain. So if you have upper abdominal pain and proven gall stones, do not assume the pain is caused by the gallstones. It is important to get your doctor to exclude other causes of upper abdominal pain such as stomach ulcers, acid reflux, spasm and pancreatic disorders etc. – see page X. These can be treated effectively so that it is often possible to avoid gall bladder surgery.
Gall bladder problems can cause symptoms that include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Intolerance to fatty foods
- Abdominal bloating
- Pain in the right upper and central upper abdomen
- Referred pain may radiate to the back and the right shoulder
Acute Gall Bladder Emergencies
If the gall bladder or large bile ducts become infected or obstructed with sludge or gall stones, very severe acute symptoms may supervene and these include –
- Severe abdominal pains which may radiate into the back and the right shoulder
- Vomiting and dehydration
- Septicaemia (the infection extends beyond the gall bladder into the blood stream)
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
This is an acute emergency and requires intravenous antibiotics and removal of the gallbladder to prevent a fatal outcome.
Chronic or grumbling gall bladder problems
This condition is far more common than acute gallbladder emergencies.
What is a grumbling gall bladder?
It is a gallbladder that is inflamed and/or sluggish and the causes of this include –
- Weak or uncoordinated contractions of the gallbladder
- Toxic sludge in the gall bladder and/or bile ducts
- Bile that sits in the gallbladder and contains excess toxins
- Gall stones
- Overworked gallbladder, which cannot cope with a normal Western diet
What is meant by grumbling is that the symptoms come and go, especially recurring after indulgence in fatty foods or too much alcohol.