WOMEN AND GALLBLADDER DISEASE

What is gallbladder disease?
   The gallbladder is a reservoir for bile which helps in the digestion of fats. It is located in the abdomen along the upper small intestine. If the gallbladder or ducts associated with it become obstructed, the flow of bile is interrupted. There are several causes for gallbladder disease with the formation of gallstones being the most common.
   There is a higher incidence of gallstone development in women because of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones affect the handling of cholesterol in the body and slows the emptying process. There is an increasing number of patients with gallbladder disease that do not have stones.


Statistics
Women between 20 and 60 years of age are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men.
An increasing number of teenagers are being diagnosed with gallbladder disease.

Risk Factors
Obesity
Fasting or losing a lot of weight quickly
Native Americans and Mexican Americans of all ages
Age over 60
Pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills
Diabetes
High fat diet (fast food is nortoriously high in fat)

Signs and Symptoms
Steady or increasing pain in upper abdomen lasting from 30 minutes to several hours
Pain under the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades
Nausea, vomiting or colic
Abdominal bloating
Belching, gas, indigestion or acid reflux
Symptoms often follow fatty meals and retiring for the day
Many people have no symptoms at all

Treatment
   Surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is the most effective treatment for gallbladder disease. This surgery can often be done laparoscopically which means patients generally experience less post-operative discomfort and a more rapid recovery than with a standard open procedure.

Preventive Measures
   You can reduce your risk of gallbladder disease by maintaining a healthy weight and diet, especially one low in saturated fat.

WNH Services
Surgical and internal medicine specialists
Digital diagnostic imaging
Digital endoscopy services
Laparoscopic and open surgery

WNH Physicians
Health Professionals by Specialty

Resources
American College of Gastroenterology
National Institutes of Health