ZocdocAnswersIs it possible to prevent genetic gallbladder disease?

Question

Is it possible to prevent genetic gallbladder disease?

Hello! I am a healthy 18 year old female. I am 5'7 and weigh 128 pounds. However, for the past few years, I've suffered from very mild gallbladder pain..it usually only occurs when I consume fatty or processed foods, and the pain is just a dull ache around the area of my gallbladder that doesn't last for more than 15 minutes. I have never had an attack and it is not acute pain. My family has a history of gallbladder problems, most of which resulted in removal, leading me to believe that it is genetic. My concern is that I am subject to this disease, which is why I am experiencing mild pain now. My question is, is there any way to prevent gallbladder disease at this stage, through either dietary means or medication? I would like to keep it healthy as long as possible. Also, what does it mean to have only mild gallbladder pain exclusively? Is that an indication of disease? Thank you!

Answer

It sounds like you have given this a great deal of thought. You are correct that dull aching in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen after eating fattening foods can often be related to the gallbladder, either because of mild inflammation or even gallstones. However, there are many other things that can cause pain in that area of the abdomen with eating, including conditions affecting the intestines (celiac disease or lactose intolerance), liver, or even referred pain from the ovaries (a cyst, follicle changes during the menstrual cycle). That is why it is important to see a physician. Without seeing a physician and having a physical exam and discussion of your overall health, family history, and current medications, it is hard to say for sure if what you are experiencing is actually from the gallbladder. Furthermore, to link gallstones to abdominal pain it would be necessary to show that gallstones or gallbladder inflammation is present, either of which would requiring some kind of imaging study (often an ultrasound). Overall, although many people in a family can have gallbladder disease, this is not strictly genetic but is often more related to diet and body habitus (which can certainly run in families). In your situation, the best thing to do for now is to see your primary care physician to discuss your concerns and then consider if there is a need for further evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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