Caffeine and Gall Bladder

November 12, 2012

Caffeine and Gall Bladder

Gall bladder is a small sac-like organ under the liver. It aids in fat digestion by concentrating the bile produced by the liver. The main gall bladder symptoms include gall stones and gall inflammation.

Causes of Gall Bladder Symptoms

Gall stones are usually made up of cholesterol, calcium and bile salts. They can be smaller than a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Excessive secretion of cholesterol by the liver or incomplete emptying of the bile from the gall bladder can lead to the formation gall stones. Although more than 25 million Americans have gall stones, only 1 to 3 percent of this population complains of gall bladder symptoms. This is because the symptoms usually occur only when gallstones block cystic duct or common bile duct. Pregnancy and hormone replacement therapy increase the risk of gall stone formation in women. Age, genetics, obesity and diabetes also play a role in occurrence of gall bladder symptoms. Other risk factors include prolonged intravenous feeding, liver cirrhosis and certain cholesterol-lowering medications.

Manifestations

The most common gall bladder symptoms include an intermittent pain known as biliary colic and digestive problems such as bloating, heartburn and acid-reflux. The pain usually occurs immediately after meals. Gall stones may also cause inflammation of the organ due to the blockage of the bile duct. The inflammation is characterized by severe and constant pain in the upper right abdomen, which may radiate to your back. The patient may also experience fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms as the infection may cause perforation of the gall bladder in about 20 percent of the patients.

Role of Caffeine

Recent research has indicated that caffeine may help lower the risk of gallstones by stimulating gallbladder contraction and the flow of bile. This will, in turn, prevent the bile from crystallizing into gallstones. Drinking coffee may, however, worsen the symptoms of gallbladder inflammation. In fact, caffeine-mediated contraction of the inflamed gallbladder can lead to severe pain in the upper right part of your abdomen. The pain may radiate from your abdomen and right shoulder as well. Caffeine may also lead to anxiety, nervousness and insomnia. Stopping the consumption of caffeinated drinks suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue as well. Hence, it is important to limit the use of caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea. You should also consult a doctor before taking caffeine to improve your gall bladder symptoms.

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