Your body contains many liquids designed to execute essential functions.
One of these liquids is bile. Sometimes also known as gall, this sticky, thick, yellow, and green systemic liquid executes a crucial role in the digestive process.
Bile’s primary function is to synthesize fats you consume into acids, which the digestive tract uses for nutritional purposes. Bile also plays a significant part in other important functions, such as helping the body get rid of excessive quantities of products like cholesterol and hemoglobin.
Bile is vital. Without it, you could not survive longer than a day.
Bile is produced by the liver and housed inside your gallbladder. When you eat, it is released into the digestive tract through channels called the bile ducts. This network joins the liver and gallbladder to a part of your small intestine called the duodenum.
Biliary Disease Overview
If the production or transportation of bile is disturbed, you can develop what is called biliary disease. This does not refer to one specific condition but a host of problems. Bile disease impacts the liver, bile ducts, or gallbladder.
Common biliary diseases include:
- Mirizzi Syndrome – an obstruction of the bile ducts next to your liver.
- Cholecystitis – a prolonged inflammation of the gallbladder.
- Cholangitis – an inflammation on or inside the bile ducts.
- Cancer of the gallbladder or bile ducts.
- Acute gallbladder or liver injury following events like car accidents, violent physical contacts, or falls.
It is important to note that various causes precipitate several types of cholecystitis and cholangitis. They are often diagnosed and progress at different stages.
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint one specific biological cause for biliary disease. It can result from some type of immune system disorder where cells in the biliary system attack its components’ chemical and structural makeup.
No one is immune to developing gallbladder or biliary disease. Certain risk factors may heighten your chances of contracting one of these serious, potentially fatal ailments, including:
- Gender: These issues are more common in women than men. Expecting and menopausal women are at particular risk because imbalances in estrogen and other female hormones are thought to be a significant contributing factor.
- Weight: Persons who are overweight or obese stand at an increased risk. Overweight individuals tend to produce excessive cholesterol concentrations. The excess cholesterol places greater strain on the gallbladder and bile ducts. Your chances might increase if you lose weight too quickly. Such actions often stimulate increased cholesterol production.
- Age: Your risk elevates when you are over the age of 60. Researchers correlate this data to the fact that, as you age, your body develops a greater tendency to deposit greater quantities of cholesterol into your bile.
- Diet: Your diet is a major influence on the development of gallbladder and biliary disease. You should be especially concerned if your diet primarily consists of unhealthy fats and cholesterol-laden foods, coupled with a diminished ingestion of fiber-rich edibles. Eating immoderate amounts of iron-saturated foods and coffee can also be a problem.
- Medications: Certain drugs, especially those prescribed to lower blood cholesterol concentrations, diuretics, anti-diarrhea preparations, proton pump inhibitors, and products employed to treat certain hormonal disorders, can be concerning. Those using any of these drugs are urged to consult with their doctors.
- Medical Conditions: Your risk for biliary disease and associated problems heightens if you have underlying illnesses, such as diabetes, an inflammatory bowel disorder, various liver ailments, sickle cell anemia, or extremely low levels of a hormone known as melatonin.
- Previous Surgery: If you have undergone weight loss surgery or organ transplantation, your chances of developing biliary disease increase.
- Genetic Predisposition: Your probability of contracting biliary disease rises if a close relative is diagnosed with such a condition. These issues usually result from some type of genetic mutation passed down from generation to generation.
- Ethnic Background: Researchers have found that the risk is notably higher in Native and Mexican Americans than in any other ethnic group.
Physical symptoms tend to vary depending on the specific biliary disease you have. These symptoms often produce common occurrences like:
- Reduced appetite.
- Elevated body temperature.
- Discolored or light brown urine.
- Greasy, clay-colored stools.
Many biliary issues cause you to grow jaundiced, which is a yellowing of your skin and eyes. Moreover, most biliary diseases precipitate pain. Discomfort is often felt in the upper right part of your abdominal region.
If your doctor believes you may have biliary disease, they will perform a thorough physical examination and often confirm the diagnosis employing tools like:
- Blood tests.
- Liver function investigations.
- Liver biopsies.
Imaging tools such as computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging may also be used to capture scans of the liver, gallbladder, and surrounding areas.
Factors such as your age, the specific underlying condition you have, the problem’s severity, your overall health, and your weight can all play into the procedures chosen by your doctor. There are many treatment options available.
Mild biliary inflammation can be remediated using antibiotics. Bile-stimulating preparations may increase the liver’s output of the chemical byproduct and foster quicker and smoother transportation throughout the digestive tract.
Surgery is a treatment option. Cholecystectomy is when the gallbladder is removed. Fortunately, the gallbladder is not necessary for survival, and you can live a normal life without it. During hepatoportoenterostom, surgeons drain bile from obstructed bile ducts. Endoscopic Retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, is a surgical procedure performed to identify and remove gallstones.
Not all incidents of biliary disease are preventable.
You might be able to reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a healthy and nutritious diet that limits fat and cholesterol, exercising, avoiding vices like cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and obtaining regular medical screenings.
If diagnosed early, biliary disease can be treated. If discovered at a more advanced stage, any associated condition could result in permanent damage and could eventually prove fatal.
If you have been diagnosed with some form of biliary disease, please contact us. Our practice began more than 15 years ago and has emerged as one of the leading gastroenterology practices in central Florida. We perform a host of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always a top priority. Contact us today!