Cholecystitis: Symptoms and Treatment

April 30, 2024

Cholecystitis: Symptoms and Treatment
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Cholecystitis is typically caused by gallstones obstructing the tube that exits the gallbladder. Bile accumulates as a result, which may lead to inflammation. Tumors, severe illnesses, bile duct issues, and certain infections are among more causes of cholecystitis.

Untreated cholecystitis can result in serious, occasionally fatal side effects like a ruptured gallbladder. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is frequently used as a treatment for cholecystitis.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Cholecystisis?
  2. Types of Cholecystitis
  3. Symptoms
  4. Causes of Cholecystitis
  5. Treatment
  6. Conclusion
  7. Frequently asked questions

What is Cholecystitis?

Gallbladder inflammation is known as Cholecystitis. Underneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen is a tiny, pear-shaped organ called the gallbladder. Bile, a digestive fluid stored in the gallbladder, is expelled into the small intestine.

After eating, the gallbladder helps the small intestine break down fats by sending bile therein. Bile ducts are microscopic pipes that carry bile from one place to another. The gallbladder might experience pain, swelling, and inflammation if there is an infection or blockage in the bile ducts attached to it.

Types of Cholecystitis

Cholecystitis or gallbladder inflammation is categorized as follows:

  • Acute (immediate and abrupt).
  • Chronic (long-lasting and sluggish).
  • Calculous (in connection with gallstones).
  • Acalculous (unrelated to gallstones). 

Inflammation of the gallbladder may be a gradual reaction to a chronic issue or the rapid result of an urgent one. This is the distinction between chronic and acute cholecystitis.

Cholecystitis, both acute and chronic, is typically caused by gallstones. Thus, the majority of instances are “calculous”. To differentiate Cholecystitis unrelated to gallstones, medical professionals use the term “acalculous”.


Some of the common symptoms are:

    • Pain in the Upper Abdomen: This type of pain particularly in the upper right area, is a common sign of acute cholecystitis. The right shoulder blade or back may also become affected. Pain in the gallbladder rises swiftly and might become severe at its peak. Deep breathing might worsen the acute, dull, or cramping sensation. Some misdiagnose it as a heart attack or even chest pain. A gallbladder attack is another term for acute gallbladder pain.
    • Nausea and Vomiting: While nausea and vomiting are typical signs of a gallbladder attack, symptoms may be less severe in elderly individuals. Only a faint loss of appetite or feeling of illness may be experienced by them.
  • Fever: Up to one-third of patients with acute cholecystitis may experience a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A fever could be a sign of a more serious inflammation or infection. In elderly adults, it is less common.

Some of the other symptoms are as follows:

  • Tenderness and abdominal distension (bloating).
  • Right-side rigidity in the abdominal muscles.
  • Exhaustion and weakness, particularly in the elderly.

The symptoms of chronic cholecystitis usually occur in phases and are less severe. An episode of biliary colic, which is characterized by nausea and abdominal pain, may occur following a rich or heavy meal. It takes more bile to digest foods high in fat. The gallbladder experiences more pressure due to its hardened squeezing due to signals from your digestive system to send more bile its way. This could last for a couple of hours.

Causes of Cholecystitis

The condition known as Cholecystitis is brought on by bile becoming lodged in the gallbladder.

This occurs most frequently when solid lumps called gallstones obstruct a conduit that the gallbladder uses to discharge bile.

Bile accumulates in the gallbladder due to gallstone blockages in this tube. The gallbladder feels pressured and irritated as a result. Infection and inflammation may result from it.

Bile is stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is where gallstones form. Bile is used to make them. Some of the causes are as follows:

  • Bacterial Infection in the Bile Duct System: This is one of the additional causes of cholecystitis. The system of drainage known as the bile duct system transports bile from the liver and gallbladder to the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine.
  • Liver or Pancreatic Tumors: A tumor can obstruct the gallbladder’s bile flow.
  • A Decreased Flow of Blood to the Gallbladder: Diabetes can cause this to occur.
  • Gallbladder Mucus: There’s not enough bile in the gallbladder to absorb this thick substance. The gallbladder becomes clogged with mucus. Pregnant women and those who have lost a significant amount of weight quickly are the main groups affected.


Probably, a hospital admission will be made to rest the affected gallbladder. The removal of the gallbladder may require surgery. The treatment line adopted by the hospital will include:

  • Taking antibiotics, which are medications that combat germs.
  • Keeping stomach empty till the symptoms go away.
  • Receiving fluids and painkillers intravenously (IV).

However, gallbladder removal is advised if the Cholecystitis is brought on by gallstones in the gallbladder. Cholecystectomy, the removal of the gallbladder, is a common surgical procedure. Without the gallbladder, the body will function as intended as it isn’t necessary to have a gallbladder to lead a healthy life.

In case if unwell to have surgery, the gallbladder may be accessed through a tiny tube inserted through the skin. Other options are:

  • Oral Dissolving Therapy: This is one possible additional therapeutic option. Bile acid-based medications are utilized to dissolve the stones.
  • Low-fat food plan: When you’re permitted to resume eating.
  • Medications: These serve to stop the formation of gallstones.


Regardless of the kind or cause, cholecystitis requires hospital care. While the hospital looks for the cause, they can provide emergency pain relief. Gallstones are typically the respective cause, but not always. Healthcare professionals typically advise surgery as the final course of action. Most people achieve great results. If left untreated, cholecystitis can have harmful consequences.

Medical treatment is always required in cases of severe stomach pain. You should probably go directly to the emergency room (ER) if the pain has the classic symptoms of gallbladder pain, which include abrupt, intense, nauseated, upper right abdominal pain. The entire biliary system may be in distress when the gallbladder is under stress, despite its small size. Cholecystitis may go away, but the underlying causes will always exist. Cholecystitis will damage your gallbladder until you receive the necessary therapy, and symptoms are likely to recur.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Cholecystitis be resolved?

Treatment is necessary for each of the cholecystitis causes. Your symptoms may go away if a gallstone obstructing your bile duct or gallbladder naturally becomes released. However, there’s too much risk and suffering involved to wait for this to happen. It’s unlikely that your problems would end even if it did occur. The same or a different gallstone can become lodged again.

2. How can I prevent cholecystitis from occurring?

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of gallstones and cholecystitis. Among them are:  

  • Reduce cholesterol.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Consume a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and good fats. Soybeans, peanuts, and eggs are excellent options. 
  • Gradual weight loss.

3. When should I seek a doctor’s help?

If any of the symptoms discussed above are concerning you, schedule a visit with your doctor. If you are unable to sit still or find comfort due to intense abdominal pain, arrange for a ride to the emergency hospital.

4. What other issues could arise from cholecystitis?

In certain situations, cholecystitis might result in further issues such as:

  • Infection and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  • Infection and pus accumulation in the gallbladder.
  • Tissue death in the gallbladder (gangrene).
  • Harm to the liver from a blocked gallbladder.
  • Infection and inflammation of the lining of your abdomen (peritonitis).

Long-term(chronic) cholecystitis may occur if the gallbladder has not been removed which might result in experiencing repeated episodes of the illness.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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