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Gallbladder Problems During Pregnancy

Gallbladder Problems During Pregnancy

Problems related to the gallbladder may occur during pregnancy due to the increased levels of estrogen. This article provides information regarding the symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures for the same.
Madhurjya Bhattacharyya
Gallbladder stones, also called gallstones, are deposits of cholesterol in the gallbladder or the bile ducts. The function of the gallbladder is to store a yellowish fluid called bile produced by the liver. This bile, which helps digest fat, is composed of fat, water, cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin. If there is excess cholesterol in the bile or the gallbladder doesn't empty properly, then it may lead to the formation of gallstones.
During pregnancy, your body starts producing more estrogen hormones. Excess of estrogen may increase the cholesterol levels in the bile resulting in gallstones. These stones obstruct the free flow of bile and therefore, there is gallbladder pain which is felt in the abdomen.
Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms during pregnancy is severe pain in the upper-right abdomen after consuming a meal rich in fat. Such pain is called a gallstone attack since the pain occurs suddenly and may last for half an hour to several hours. You may also get a steady pain which may increase over time. The other symptoms include back pain between shoulder blades, vomiting, nausea, bloating of the abdomen, gas, indigestion, belching, and intolerance to foods rich in fat. Additionally, you may also suffer from sweating, chills, slight fever, clay-colored stools, and yellow skin.
The gallstone pain may be compared to pain which occurs during childbirth. However, contraction which occurs during childbirth goes away soon enough, unlike gallstone which may remain for several hours. This pain may be so severe that it may be difficult to relieve.
Treatment
If the tests show that the pain is caused due to formation of gallstones, medical practitioners may suggest you to consume foods which are very low in fat. Such a diet is recommended as a preventive measure rather than long term cure. Long term measures include gallbladder surgery; however, surgery during pregnancy may be risky. The doctor may recommend a surgery if you are in the second trimester, and the pain is very severe and unbearable. Surgery before the second trimester may result in miscarriage, whereas surgery after the second trimester may be difficult to perform due to size of the baby.
Prevention
Usually it's the obese women who are more at a risk of getting gallstones. If excess of fat is accumulated in the body, the amount of bile secreted decreases, thereby resulting in excess deposits of cholesterol. Weight gain during pregnancy or after childbirth may also result in the formation of stones in the gallbladder. Therefore, it is essential to consume a diet rich in fibers to reduce the chances of developing gallstones. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are rich in fibers and are excellent for an inflamed gallbladder.
If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms consult a doctor immediately and get corrective measures. As a preventive measure, it's always better to stop consuming fat-rich foods and start having foods rich in fibers.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.