By Dr. Jeeno Jayan, MBBS
Constipation after gallbladder surgery - The function of the gallbladder
The liver constantly produces bile and stores it in a sac-like organ called the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is located on the right side of the abdomen just under the liver. Once a meal is completed, the gallbladder pushes bile into the intestine where the bile mixes with food and helps with the digestion of fat.
Bile is absolutely essential for the smooth functioning of the digestive tract. It also aids in the movement of fats to elsewhere in the body where they are needed.
Bile is comprised of cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin. Sometimes these substances accumulate and harden into gallstones.
The pain caused by gallstones is the most common reason for gallbladder removal.
Gallbladder surgery is also known as cholecystectomy. In gallbladder surgery, the gallbladder is removed, removing the source of pain.
Most people function fairly well without their gallbladder, since bile can flow out of the liver and through to bile ducts to the intestines without having to enter the gallbladder first.
Unfortunately, gallbladder surgery is not without risks. The removal of the gallbladder can affect the way we eat and digest food, and may result in constipation.
Some people become constipated after gallbladder surgery for the following reasons:
Eating a diet that is rich in fiber, including beans, bran, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables, can help to prevent constipation.
Constipation, diarrhea, lowered heart rate and fatigue are expected side effects following gallbladder surgery.
Once the gallbladder is removed, there is no place for the body to store bile. It must flow directly from the liver into the intestine to mix with the fat and food.
The results in a smaller amount of bile being available for digestion.
For some diets, this smaller amount of bile isn’t sufficient. Without adequate bile, digestion takes longer. Feces is held longer in the colon to give the body more time to digest it.
The longer it stays in the colon, the more water the colon extracts from it. This results in dry, hard and compacted stool that is difficult and even painful to eliminate.
Consume foods rich in fiber, including nuts, leafy greens, peas, dried fruits, whole grains and strawberries.
Gallbladder removal is done to ease the discomforts brought on by gallstones.
After the surgical procedure, common side effects can be experienced, including as constipation.
There are numerous measures that may be taken to avoid constipation after gallbladder surgery.