Five Important Tips if You've Had Gallstones or Your Gallbladder Removed

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April 10, 2004 | 304,978 views

ByDr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

The New York Times regional newspaper interviewed me about gallbladdersand I thought it would be useful to review this common problem.I have seen many hundreds of patients who have had their gallbladdersremoved and I don't recall anyone ever telling me that their surgeonadvised them to do something to compensate for removing this importantorgan.

Just about every one of them was told they didn't need their gallbladderand that it was perfectly fine to have it removed. This is reprehensibleignorance as it condemns the patient to a lifelong deficiency ofessential fatty acids.

Why? Because after your liver produces bile, which emulsifies fatsfor improved fat digestion, half of it goes to the small intestine,and the other half is stored in the gallbladder until it'sneeded.

About 500,000 gallbladders are removed each year in the UnitedStates, typically due to gallstones, which affect about 15 percentof Americans. Gallstones form when bile is in the gallbladder toolong and it collects and settles. Although most gallstones dissolvenaturally and produce no symptoms, if one ignores warning symptomsand does not address the reasons why their gallbladder is not functioningproperly, then the disease can progress to the point where the pancreasis inflamed or the gallbladder is seriously infected and may haveto be removed to save a person's life.

Signs of Gallbladder Disease

If you have any of the following symptoms then your gallbladdermay not be functioning properly:

  1. Pain when pressing on the gallbladder, which is directly under the last rib on the right on the same plane as one's nipple. This is usually due to gallbladder "sludge" (thick bile).

  2. Stone on a gallbladder ultrasound.

  3. Greasy stools that are loose and tend to float to the top of the toilet bowl. This indicates improper fat absorption.

Treatment Methods

Further, the gallbladder is frequently infected when it is diseasedso large amounts of high-qualityprobiotics will also be helpful in correcting the problem.

What to do if You've had Your GallbladderRemoved

High-quality fats--especially omega-3fats -- are essential for good health and if you don't have agallbladder you will have an impaired ability to absorb them. Tryingto digest fat without bile is like trying to wash greasy disheswithout soap--it doesn't work very well. If your gallbladderis removed then you need to compensate by providing an increasedlevel of fat digestive enzymes (lipase) to compensate for this.

Unless you receive a gallbladder transplant, which is unlikely,then you'll need to continue taking the enzymes for the restof your life to ensure that fats can be absorbed and used by thebody for their many important functions.

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