A gallbladder attack happens because of inflammation and irritation of the gallbladder. Called cholecystitis, gallbladder attacks occur because of the presence of an infection or gallstones in the gallbladder or from damage to the bile ducts that drain the gallbladdder. Cholecystitis may become an acute condition with a sudden onset or it can become a chronic health problem. Remedies for gallbladder attacks involve diet and lifestyle modifications, medications and surgery.
Low Fat Diet
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIDDK, an important remedy for gallbladder attacks is a low fat diet. The consumption of fat causes an increase in the production of bile which, in a diseased gallbladder, increases biliary spasm and pain symptoms. Donna D. Ignatavicius, MS RN, and M. Linda Workman, PhD, authors of "Medical-Surgical Nursing: Critical Thinking for Collaborative Care", emphasize the importance of sufficient protein intake along with adherence to a low fat diet. Adequate protein prevents the formation of certain gallstones. Gallstones are a frequent cause of gallbladder attacks. People with gallbladder disease should confer with a physician or nutritionist to establish an appropriate diet that meets individual needs.
The NIDDK report that a direct link exists between obesity and cholecystitis. One possible reason for this connection purports that in overweight people the amount of bile salts in bile is reduced, leading to elevated cholesterol levels. High cholesterol slows gallbladder emptying and increases gallstone formation. A low fat diet and regular exercise help control weight and cholesterol levels.
Donna D. Ignatavicius, MS RN, and M. Linda Workman, PhD, further explain why individuals with high cholesterol have an increased risk of gallbladder attacks. Often, people with high cholesterol take cholesterol lowering medications. These drugs increase the amount of cholesterol secreted in the gallbladder and cause the formation of gallstones and ultimately gallbladder attacks. To avoid such complications, maintain a low fat, low cholesterol diet.
The pain in a gallbladder attack arises from inflammation and spasms of the gallbladder and the bile ducts. Remedies for gallbladder attacks include the use of pain and antispasmodic medications. Billie Ann Wilson, PhD., Margaret Shannon, PhD., and Kelly Shields PharmD., authors of "Pearson Nurse's Drug Guide 2010", report that typically physicians prescribe the narcotic meperidine hydrochloride and the antispasmodic dicyclomine hydrochloride. Physicians prescribe medications for pain relief on a temporary basis. When lifestyle and diet modifications do not work, surgical interventions follow.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive surgical removal of the gallbladder, provides for quick recovery. Although the most common method of gallbladder removal, the NIDDK says 5 percent of patients require traditional surgical removal of the gallbladder which involves a prolonged healing time. Surgery normally eliminates most symptoms of gallbladder disease and patients can resume a normal diet. However, other lifestyle modifications such as weight control, cessation of smoking and alcohol and stress reduction benefit health and should be continued.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Gallstones"
- "Medical-Surgical Nursing: Critical Thinking for Collaborative Care"; Donna D. Ignatavicius MS RN, & M. Linda Workman PhD; 2006
- "Pearson Nurse's Drug Guide 2010"; Wilson, B. A., Shannon, T. M., & Shields, K. M.; 2010