What is Cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder, or the organ that holds digestive fluid called bile. Those who are prone to this condition include, seniors, women taking hormone therapies, women using birth control pills, those who are obese, or those who have lost a significant amount of weight. Cholecystitis is one of the most common gallbladder issues and can present itself as acute or chronic inflammation.

Acute cholecystitis can be caused by gallstones, or hardened deposits of cholesterol or bilirubin. These gallstones can block the tube leading out of the gallbladder, thus causing bile buildup, irritation, and inflammation. Cholecystitis can also be caused by tumors or issues with bile ducts. Poor recovery from surgery or an injury to the abdominal region can also encourage this condition to develop. If a person has had many gallbladder infections before, he or she may develop chronic cholecystitis, which can actually deform the gallbladder by making it smaller and making it unable to release the correct amounts of bile.

What are the Symptoms of Cholecystitis?

The symptoms for Cholecystitis can occur at anytime, but they are prevalent after a big meal or a fatty meal.

Symptoms include

Some symptoms include pain in the upper right abdomen, pain in the shoulder, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, fever, chills, bloating, and loose bowel movements.

Cholecystitis Causes

Cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder, is most commonly caused by gallstones. Gallstones are hard particles that can develop in the bladder as a result of an imbalance in substances in the bile, such as bile salts and cholesterol. The gallstones can block the cystic duct, which is the tube the bile moves through to get to the stomach. When this happens the bile builds up, causing inflammation.

The buildup of bile can sometimes (though rarely) be caused by a tumor. The tumor can develop in a way that prevents the bile from flowing properly through the cystic duct, causing it to buildup, which results in cholecystitis.

In rare cases, the bile buildup can also be caused by either kinking or scarring in the bile ducts. Other rare causes include injury to the abdomen, immune deficiency, and prolonged fasting.

How is Cholecystitis Treated?

Cholesystitis can lead to serious complications, like tissue necrosis, gallbladder tears, or even gallbladder ruptures; so, it is vital to have this issue treated as soon as possible.

Treatment includes

Antibiotics are often used to make sure that the infection doesn’t turn into a chronic condition. If gallstones are causing the cholecystitis, shock-wave therapy or oral medications can be used to break them up.

If gallstones aren’t causing the inflammation, a person may need to stay at the hospital and undergo some dietary restrictions or temporary fasting. Fasting can help the digestive tract and the bile levels normalize. During this time, a person may receive fluids intravenously to avoid dehydration. Pain medication may also be prescribed.

If a person is at risk for chronic cholecystitis, he or she may want to undergo a laparoscopic cholecystectomy to completely remove the gallbladder.

Cholecystitis Prevention

As cholecystitis is most often caused by gallstones, preventing it generally comes down to reducing the risk of gallstones forming.

One of the best defences against gallstones is maintaining a healthy weight. Those who are overweight are significantly more likely to develop gallstones. A healthy weight can be achieved through limiting the intake of high calorie food such as processed foods, fast foods, and sugary drinks. Moderate exercise can also be beneficial.

However, if you’re losing weight, take care to not to lose it too quickly, as that can also lead to the development of gallstones. Most experts recommend shooting for a goal of losing one or two pounds a week.

Diet has also been shown to be a major contributor to the development of gallstones. One study found that high fat low fiber foods were particularly bad. The study also found that refined sugar and trans fats also contributed to the development of gallstones. A diet high in fiber, on the other hand, helped prevent them from forming.

Last Reviewed:
October 01, 2016
Last Updated:
December 05, 2017
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