Gallbladder Disease and Liver Health

What is Gallbladder Disease?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ which lies just beneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen. Measuring approximately 3 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide, the gallbladder’s main function is to store and concentrate bile which is produced in the liver. Bile, a bitter, greenish mixture of acids, salts and other substances is carried by the bile ducts which connects the liver and the gallbladder. Bile aids in the digestion of fat, and is released from the gallbladder into the upper small intestine (duodenum) in response to food (especially fats).

Gallbladder disease, also called biliary disease, includes stones, infection, inflammation, or blockage (obstruction) of the gallbladder.

A person with liver disease who is experiencing abdominal pain and/or pain over the liver (right upper quadrant pain) should not automatically attribute the pain to a liver disorder – other causes should be investigated. In fact, abdominal and right upper quadrant pain is rarely due to chronic liver disease. Most commonly, right upper quadrant pain, when due to the liver, occurs in the acute stages of liver disease or during a flare-up of a chronic liver disease. The cause of the pain, in these instances, is acute inflammation, distention of the liver and irritation. Otherwise, the liver is rarely tender in people with chronic liver disease.

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MayoClinic.com “What is a Gallbladder Cleanse? Is it an Effective Way to Flush Out Gallstones?” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gallbladder-cleanse/AN01283. Retrieved April 20, 2011

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U.S. National Library of Medicine NIH National Institutes of Health “Gallbladder Disease” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001138.htm.  Retrieved April 20, 2011

WebMD “Tests Used to Diagnose Gallbladder Problems” http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tests-diagnose-gallbladder-problems.  Retrieved April 20, 2011

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