How Are Alcohol and Gallbladder Health Related?

Majority of the individuals don’t give importance to the health of the gallbladder. This tiny pear-shaped organ of the body has an important job of storing bile which is a fluid secreted by the liver to help in the digestion of fats. The health of the gallbladder can be affected by what you consume. Let us discuss the relationship between alcohol and gallbladder heath.

How Can Alcohol Affect Gallbladder?

Drinking alcohol is related with certain diseases of the gallbladder.

1. Gallstones

No evidence exists that indicates that gallstones are caused by drinking alcohol. In fact, according to some research, moderate consumption of alcohol may actually decrease the risk of forming gallstones in a person. However, this does not imply that you should start drinking large amounts of alcohol to prevent the formation of gallstones as excessive intake of alcohol can result in the development of gallstones indirectly. It can also possibly aggravate the existing symptoms. People who already have gallstones should avoid alcohol until confirmed by their physician that they can take it safely.

Risk Factors of Developing Gallstones

Though cholesterol is produced naturally by your body, you can also consume excess cholesterol in your diet. Some risk factors for developing gall stones are related to your diet. These are:

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Eating a diet rich in cholesterol or fat
  • Rapid loss of weight within a short span of time
  • Eating a diet that lacks fiber
  • Suffering from diabetes mellitus

Your risk of developing gallstones can increase in the following cases.

  • You are a female.
  • You are a Mexican-American or American Indian descent.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You have a positive family history of gallstones.
  • You are 60 years of age or older.
  • You have liver cirrhosis.
  • You take certain medicines for decreasing cholesterol.
  • You take medicines that contain estrogen in high amounts.

Cholecystitis or Inflammation of Gallbladder

Cholecystitis or inflamed gallbladder can occur due to gallstones, infections, excessive use of alcohol (confirming the link between alcohol and gallbladder) or even tumors. However, the most common cause of inflammation of gallbladder is gallstones.

Symptoms and Treatments of Gallstones and Cholecystitis

1. Gallstones

Symptoms

Gallstones may produce no symptoms or signs. If a gallstone travels to a duct and blocks it, then the resulting symptoms are:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the right upper side of the abdomen
  • Sudden and intense pain in center portion of the abdomen, below the breastbone
  • Pain in the back between the two shoulder blades
  • Pain in right shoulder
  • Vomiting or nausea

Treatment

Asymptomatic gallstones will not require any treatment. The various treatment options for symptomatic gallstones are:

Cholecystectomy or surgery to remove your gallbladder: Cholecystectomy may be recommended by your physician due to the tendency of gallstones to recur frequently. Once the gallbladder is removed, the bile from the liver flows directly in your small intestine, instead of being stored in the gallbladder.

Gallbladder is not required to live and its removal doesn’t affect your digestion. However, its removal may lead to symptoms of diarrhea temporarily.

Gallstone dissolving medicines: There are certain medicines available that you can ingest by mouth to help dissolve gallstones. However, it may take many months or even years of medical treatment to dissolve gallstones in this manner and the gallstone will recur once you stop the treatment.

Medicines don’t work sometimes. Gallstone dissolving medicines are not used commonly and are only used in patients who can’t have surgery due to some reasons.

2. Cholecystitis

Symptoms

Signs of inflamed gallbladder are:

  • Severe pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Pain radiating from abdomen to right side of back or shoulder
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever

Treatment

You already know the relationship between alcohol and gallbladder health. What if you have cholecystitis? Your overall health will be considered by your physician while choosing a treatment plan. The various treatment options are:

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics that are given to fight infection
  • Oral medicines to dissolve gallstones (used only in patients who can’t have surgery)
  • Pain killers to control pain during treatment
  • Surgery to remove the gallbladder, which is done in chronic cholecystitis

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

If you are suffering cholecystitis, it implies that you should make some important changes to your lifestyle and diet. It is recommended that you eat 5-6 smaller meals in a day upon recovery. This helps to normalize the bile flow in your digestive tract. One big meal can produce spasm in the bile ducts and gallbladder.

Limited alcohol and gallbladder health are related. Besides, eat a diet low in fat, which contains lean proteins including fish or poultry. Avoid eating fried food, fatty meats and any other types of high-fat foods, even whole milk products.