Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gall bladder, most often associated with the presence of gallstones. Although cholecystitis may occur in either sex and at almost any age, it is most frequently found in women, especially obese women over 40.
Symptoms of Cholecystitis
Cholecystitis often lasts over a period of years. Many persons have no symptoms or suffer only such mild symptoms as indigestion and heartburn, which occur mostly after eating fried or fatty foods. Some patients occasionally suffer severe attacks of discomfort or episodes of nausea and vomiting. These, too, are generally provoked by eating fried, greasy, or fatty foods. Sometimes when a patient has gallstones, a stone may pass out of the gall bladder and lodge in the common bile duct, obstructing the outflow of bile and causing jaundice.
When cholecystitis occurs as an acute disease the patient suddenly develops a severe pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. Often there is also a pain in the back or left shoulder blade. During the attack the patient often becomes nauseated and vomits. If the gall bladder becomes infected, the patient may develop fever and chills and sweat profusely. Usually an attack of acute cholecystitis is precipitated when a gallstone lodges in the small duct (cystic duct) leading from the gall bladder to the common bile duct.
Treatment of Cholecystitis
Most often cholecystitis is treated by the surgical removal of the gall bladder. In some chronic cases, however, if the risk of surgery is high or if the symptoms are not severe, the doctor may simply recommend a diet that is low in fat.
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