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Alcohol's Negative Impact on Liver Disease

3 Do-It-Yourself Ways to Help Gallbladder and Liver Pain

Nicole Cutler

Oct 19th, 2007

While it is always advised to get approval from your physician, you may consider easing one of liver disease’s most challenging symptoms from the comfort of your own home. Three non-pharmaceutical techniques that could reduce gallbladder and liver pain are not only simple to do, but may also help improve your overall liver health.

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Those with chronic liver disease are likely familiar with bouts of gallbladder and liver pain. This pain is often a result of inflammation characteristic of liver diseases. In some cases, a physician can help get you through these rough times with prescription drugs or surgery. However, patients are often informed that occasional liver pain is a symptom they must learn to live with. Fortunately, there are some simple, self-administered ways that could reduce liver and gallbladder inflammation, helping to relieve any related pain.

The Liver
The American Liver Foundation reports that more than 25 million people are afflicted with liver and gallbladder disease each year. Though few treatments effectively eliminate chronic liver disease, avoiding alcohol and other toxins helps to safeguard a vulnerable liver.

The largest internal organ, the liver literally maintains life. It performs over 100 separate bodily functions, and its sheer complexity makes it susceptible to almost as many different diseases. Located behind the lower ribs, the liver is just below the diaphragm on the right side of the abdomen. Akin to a human manufacturing plant, export facility, sewage system and refinery, the liver has a hand in just about every one of our biological functions.

Liver Inflammation
Pain in the abdomen can have a variety of causes, and should always be brought to a physician’s attention. When living with liver disease, some people will feel actual pain over their liver. However, others may just notice local discomfort, a feeling of fullness or no extraordinary sensations at all. When right upper quadrant pain is due to inflammation of the liver, it is usually during the acute stage of liver disease or during a flare-up. In either case, the pain is due to liver inflammation that causes irritation and distention of the liver’s surface. Aside from these occasions, the liver itself is rarely tender.

Liver cancer may be the cause of abdominal or right upper quadrant pain. People with a history of chronic Hepatitis B or C, and those with cirrhosis due to any chronic liver disease are at an increased risk for developing liver cancer. If experiencing pain from liver cancer, always consult with your physician prior to attempting any do-it-yourself approaches.

The Gallbladder
Bile production is one of the most important jobs of the liver. Engineered to store and concentrate bile, the gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ nestled beneath the liver. Bile breaks down dietary fat into essential fatty acids that are absorbed into the blood and used by our bodies. Besides turning fat into fuel and new cell walls, bile also stimulates peristalsis in the large intestine. Peristalsis is the rhythmic movement of the large intestine propelling bowel elimination. Without proper liver function and therefore bowel elimination, constipation is likely. The intermediary between the liver and bowel movements is the gallbladder, since it provides the bile to promote healthful bowel evacuation.

Gallbladder Inflammation
By stretching and inflaming its sac, the formation of stones in the gallbladder is a painful experience. Often occurring in those with liver disease, especially cirrhosis, gallstones affect approximately twenty million Americans. The pain characteristic of gallstones is severe and recurring, usually located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. This pain can radiate to the shoulder or back, and is typically accompanied by nausea and vomiting. People with symptomatic gallstones require surgical removal of the entire gallbladder, not just the gallstones.

While there is no medication that treats gallstones, ursodeoxycholic acid had been used in the past to dissolve small ones. Occasionally, gallstones fall out of the gallbladder into the bile ducts. The resulting blockage is a serious complication, resulting in jaundice, excruciating pain and infection. Therefore, surgery may be recommended for those suffering from abdominal pain due to gallstones.

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http://uimc.discoveryhospital.com, Liver Disease, Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN, University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, 2007.

www.liverdisease.com, Abdominal Pain and Liver Disease/Hepatitis, Melissa Palmer MD, 2007.

www.healthsquare.com, Dealing with Liver Disease, HealthCentral Network, 2007.

www.vitalitymagazine.com, Liver Strengthening Techniques for Managing Menopause Naturally, Managing Menopause Naturally: Before During, and Forever, Emily A. Kane, ND, L.Ac., Basic Health Publications, New Jersey, 2004.

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