An inflamed gallbladder, also called cholecystitis, normally occurs when you develop gallstones. Gallstones are small hardened chemical deposits which form within the gallbladder. These stones block bile ducts in the gallbladder and cause inflammation.
Gallstones are the most common reason for an inflamed gallbladder. Other causes include blockages of bile ducts from cancer or narrowed bile ducts caused from scarring due to surgery or infection.
Symptoms of an inflamed gallbladder include weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain on right side under the rib cage, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes indicating jaundice, brown urine and greasy stools. Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting may also be experienced.
Symptoms of gallbladder inflammation can be sudden and severe, or they may be mild and come and go. The symptoms will depend on blockage of bile ducts and the size of gallstones.
Blood tests will be taken to check for an increase in white blood cell count indicating infection. A CT or MRI scan will create images of the gallbladder and reveal inflammation or gallstone formation. An endoscopy procedure allows your doctor to insert a thin flexible tube down your throat past the stomach into the opening where bile empties into your stomach. A dye may be injected in order to show bile blockage on X-rays. A tissue sample for a biopsy may be obtained during this procedure.
Surgical removal of the gallbladder is the most common form of treatment for gallbladder inflammation. The surgery is called a cholecystectomy and after removal your bile will flow from your liver directly into the small intestine. Medications are available to dissolve gallstones, but it may take months or years for treatment to be successful. For this reason, most people will opt for surgical removal.
Inflammation caused by gallstones may be avoided by watching your weight, eating low fat meals and keeping cholesterol under control. Eat a diet high in fibre which can prevent gallstones from forming. Vitamin supplements such as C, E and calcium may decrease the risk of gallstones. Exercise at least 30 minutes four days a week as inactivity can lead to gallstones. Keep to a normal meal time and if trying to lose weight, do so slowly to avoid gallstones.