Cholecystitis & its Symptoms
January 15, 2020 | Abigail Mckay

Cholecystitis & its Symptoms

Inflammation of the gallbladder, also known as cholecystitis, is a common condition, and much like the appendix, the gallbladder can be removed successfully without much consequence. The gallbladder sits below the liver and aids in the digestion of fatty food in the small intestine. Fatty foods are digested through the use of bile, which is stored in the gallbladder. Gallbladder pain is typically ignited after a high-fat meal. Bile cannot be released from the gallbladder because gallstones block the duct from which bile comes and goes. If the bile cannot be released to help digest the fatty food, the bile backs up in the gallbladder, causing inflammation and pressure. If the duct remains blocked for an extended period, the gallbladder can become infected, which indicates the need for removal.
In some circumstances, patients have reported gallbladder attacks, usually after a fatty meal, where they will experience pain, nausea, and vomiting for a short period of time. An attack is short-lived due to the quick passage of the blockage, thus resulting in the release of the backed-up bile. If this is the case, surgery should be encouraged in the future but is not indicated immediately. Gallbladder attacks are usually reoccurring, so removal should be considered before the gallbladder becomes infected, which can lead to life-threatening consequences. If pain is unrelieved and the duct remains blocked, surgery will be suggested immediately. An infected gallbladder can cause systemic infection if not treated promptly. 
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack include sharp, steady pain that is generally felt in the middle of the abdomen below the sternum. The pain can radiate to the right side of the stomach, and can potentially wrap around the side of the abdomen to the back. Nausea and vomiting are also common. Fever and yellowing of the skin, also called jaundice, are more severe symptoms of cholecystitis, and these symptoms usually indicate an infected gallbladder. Risk factors include genetics, obesity, diabetes, females, pregnancy, and older age. If any of the above symptoms are reported, the doctor will order blood tests and also an imaging test to determine if the gallbladder is indeed inflamed or infected. Imaging tests that are utilized include an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, and X-ray. 
If you experience signs of an inflamed gallbladder, report to the emergency room immediately. The proper tests can confirm if you are indeed experiencing cholecystitis. IV fluids can be initiated, as well as antibiotics, to ensure that the infection is adequately treated and contained. Sometimes, as stated previously, the gallbladder attack may subside on its own through the use of antibiotics and a low-fat diet. However, if there is a persistent blockage and severe infection, surgery will be done immediately. After surgery, it is essential to continue a low-fat diet because your body will not tolerate fatty food as it did prior. If you or a loved one continue to have recurring symptoms as described above, speak with a physician today at Shifa4U to formulate a treatment plan.

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Abigail Mckay

Abigail has been a nurse for five years, and throughout her time as a nurse, she has worked in multiple medical-surgical units as well as spent time in the infusion therapy clinic and endoscopy lab. She is passionate about preventative medicine through patient education regarding nutrition and exercise. Due to her passion, Abigail has gone on to earn two certifications including a certification in medical-surgical nursing (CMSRN) and a certification in holistic nursing (HNB-BC), in hopes of being able to better serve her patients. Abigail earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA and now bettering patient education in the healthcare system through partnering with American TelePhysicians.