Small and insignificant as it may look on paper, the gallbladder is a very vital organ in the body. The pear-shaped organ hanging just above your pancreas, holds bile produced in the liver until you actually need it. The bile from the gallbladder is essential in proper digestion of food and increases the absorption of fats into the system. It normally is a small organ which at best can grow to 12 cm long and maybe 4 cm wide and we can all be forgiven for not thinking much about it.
Unless you’ve had a gallstone or an injury to the gallbladder, you will never quite appreciate the importance of the organ in the body and measures you should take to ensure that the pear-shaped thing is safe. To help you understand more about the gallbladder, here are 5 facts you need to know about it;
1. It stores bile
Bile, which is a dark green fluid secreted by the liver, is stored in the gallbladder. This bile, as we earlier on mentioned, is essential in the digestion of food as it helps with the absorption of fats into the system. The bile is normally collected in the gallbladder from the liver until it really is needed to break down the fats available in the ingested foods. When need arises, the bladder contracts and pumps the bile into the small intestines where digestion takes place.
2. Gallstones are the biggest threats to gall bladders
One of the most common diseases that affect the gallbladder which you should be aware of by now, are the gallstones. These are hard, pebble-like solid cholesterol deposits that are formed inside the gallbladder and negatively affect the performance of the gallbladder. The gall stones come in two forms; pigment stones and cholesterol stones. The former are formed when there is excess bilirubin in the bile while the latter are formed when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. The gallstones range in size depending on the cause and the period of time they have been in the gallbladder. They can as big as golf balls and occupy the entire gallbladder or be as small as pebbles which are spread all through the gallbladder.
3. Symptoms of gallstones
So, now that you know of the existence of the gallstones, what are the symptoms and signs that you should look out for? Well, the symptoms and signs of the gallstones depend on the size of the stones with respect to the size of the gallbladder. When the stones are too small, they form a sludge or a slurry and the symptoms are almost unnoticed. However, when they are too large they are likely to cause a lot of pain and discomfort in the abdominal area. This pain results from the gallbladder responding to fatty meals and contracting to pump out the bile. There will be sporadic spasms of pain which are intermittent. Such signs and symptoms might be indicative of organ injury as well and the best diagnosis is to visit a doctor and get checked to ascertain the exact cause of the pain. Ignoring the pain or trying to live through with pain might cause a lot of complications. If gallstones are not treated early enough, they harden and become larger in size. They then end up blocking the educts connecting the gallbladder to the liver or the pancreas then serious health complications will arise. Inflammations will only lead to increased pain and if left untreated for too long, then the gallstones can cause death. It is therefore wise to ensure that you report to your doctor any signs or symptoms that may be pointing towards the dreaded kidney gallstones for medical attention.
4. Preventing gallstones and keeping your gallbladder healthy
What do you need to do to ensure that you are safe from the gallstones? Well, it is easy! You only need to ensure that you have a low-fat and almost zero cholesterol intake. As we said earlier, the gallstones are formed from the hardening of cholesterol in the bladder and if you keep cholesterol away from your diet, then you will have reduced your chances of getting the gallstones by a mile.
5. More than 15% of the world population has gallstones
If you were thinking that they are not common, then you are wrong because gallstones are very common. More than 15% of the world population have the gall stones but only a few about 4% are actually aware of the problem. This is because most people have the small pigment stones which don’t cause as much pain and don’t hinder the functioning of the gallbladder. This however, does not mean that you should be unperturbed by the threat of gallstones. You should go to your doctor today and get checked to ensure that you don’t have them and then lead a healthy lifestyle with minimum fat intake.