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Function of the Gallbladder

Authored by Debra Cornelius in Health
Published on 08-21-2009

The gallbladder is a small organ located on the right side of your abdomen just under the liver. The function of your gallbladder is that of a storage container for the bile produced in your liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder before it is secreted to your intestines to aid in the digestion of fats. A healthy functioning gallbladder stores only a small amount of bile at a time by removing water from the bile and concentrating what remains into a thicker secretion that is released into the small intestines as needed to break down fats during the digestion process.

A healthy gallbladder does its work unnoticed. Many people mistakenly believe gallstones are the cause of gallbladder disease. This is not the case. Gallstones are produced by a diseased gallbladder.

Bile is composed of three ingredients: cholesterol, bile salts and bilirubin. When the diseased gallbladder fails to function properly, it results in an imbalance in these components and that leads to the formation of gallstones.

In most cases gallstones are composed primarily of cholesterol and can range in size. The size of the gallstones are not an indicator of the potential for pain or problems. Many people have gallstones without experiencing any difficulties only discovering they have gallstones when being tested for other health problems.

It is a common misconception that the pain associated with a diseased gallbladder is caused by gallstones. The pain associated with a diseased gallbladder is caused by spasms of the gallbladder. In a smaller percentage of cases pain may be due to a gallstone moving in such a way that it irritates or blocks a bile duct.

Once a gallbladder is diseased and begins to cause pain and other complications, surgical removal is recommended. It is possible to slow or treat gallbladder disease with a change in diet and medication, however symptoms will reoccur and the potential for more serious complications increases the longer surgery is avoided.

Since the gallbladder’s function is only to store a small amount of bile at a time there is usually no change noted in the digestive process for most individuals. The liver will simply produce and secrete the bile slowly into the small intestines.

References:

  • Gallbladder and Gallstones. Global Healing Center

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