Gallbladder, or biliary, sludge is composed of a mixture of small, sand-like particles and mucus within bile. It may exist without symptoms, or intermittent symptoms may be experienced. The most common symptom of gallbladder sludge is pain, caused by sludge or gallstones preventing bile from exiting the gallbladder through the bile ducts, or from inflammation of the pancreas or gallbladder. If you are concerned you may have gallbladder sludge, discuss these concerns with your physician.
Select foods high in fiber as the staples of your diet. Include healthy unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and fish. High-fiber foods should consist primarily of a variety of fruits and vegetables to prevent additional sludge from developing. Stay away from high cholesterol foods as well as saturated and trans fats, including whole dairy products such as butter and cheese. Foods high in fats and cholesterol force the gallbladder to work harder to release bile into the small intestine to assist with the digestive process and lead to increased sludge formation. Discuss adding calcium and anti-oxidant vitamins such as C and E to your wellness routine with your doctor. Insufficient amounts of these vitamins leads to an increased risk of developing gallbladder sludge.
Eat frequent small meals throughout the day. Do not skip meals. Small meals spaced through the day will cause the gallbladder to release small amounts of bile at regular intervals to assist with digestion. The gallbladder will then not need to store bile for long periods, preventing its consistency from thickening.
Lose weight if you are overweight or obese to decrease your risk of developing more gallbladder sludge. Reduce the amount of calories consumed each day. Begin an exercise regimen to use the calories that are consumed.
Take Ursodiol (ursodeoxycholic acid) as prescribed by your doctor to help break down bile proteins and reduce the amount of gallbladder sludge. Ursodiol will be prescribed if dietary and other lifestyle changes do not remove existing sludge or new sludge continues to form.
Have your gallbladder surgically removed. If your gallbladder sludge condition does not improve, or leads to the development of gallstones or related complications such as a blocked bile duct, gallbladder inflammation or pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend removal. Since the gallbladder is not an essential organ, and gallbladder issues are known to reoccur, surgical removal eliminates the symptoms without affecting the digestive process or causing additional health issues.