Gallbladder Problems in Children

Gallbladder problems in children are not as common as observed in adults. However, having information on gallbladder disease affecting children will help parents seek prompt medical intervention. Let us go through symptoms of gallbladder problems in children by reading through the following article.
The organ present below the liver, which looks like a sac is the gallbladder. This organ secrets the very important bile juice that aids in digestion. When the flow of bile juice is blocked due to certain abnormalities, it leads to gallbladder problems. There is inflammation and pain in the gallbladder which is called cholecystitis or in simple words as gallbladder disease. It is very rare to observe gallbladder problems in children. However, gallbladder disease in children do occur and can be of two types, that we shall study in the following paragraphs.

Information on Gallbladder Disease in Children

The two types of gallbladder problems in children include calculous cholecystitis and acalculous cholecystitis. The calculous cholecystitis is a chronic condition and a long-term disease. There is the formation of gallstones that leads to inflammation of the gallbladder. The frequent episodes of inflamed gallbladder causes it to become scarred, thick and small. In case of acalculous cholecystitis, it occurs suddenly due to viral or bacterial infection. The gallbladder is filled with fluid due to the infection. In case of acute cholecystitis, the walls of gallbladder become thick. This disease is more commonly seen affecting younger children and is more serious than chronic calculous cholecystitis.

Causes of Gallbladder Problems in Children

Thought as more of an adult disease, gallbladder problems in children should not be overlooked. There are various gallbladder disease causes in children. These causes of gallbladder problems include:
  • Impaired or weak immune system
  • Hemolysis, where the red blood cells are destroyed
  • Obesity
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Acute renal failure
  • Prolonged fasting
  • Family history of biliary disease
  • Cholesterol crystals deposited in the gallbladder
  • Formation of polyp in gallbladder
  • Bile duct obstruction
  • High levels of estrogen during puberty in girls
  • Hepatobiliary disease
Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems in Children

The gallbladder symptoms in children are similar to those experienced by adults. The following symptoms of gallbladder problems in children may be seen in some patients:

The child may complain of an upper abdominal pain. This pain is generally felt after a meal or worsens after the child consumes a fatty meal. The pain suffered by the child may be very sharp or dull, and feels like cramps. The intensity of pain may alter and can last for about 30 minutes to even a few hours. In some children, the pain may radiate from the upper right side between the shoulder blades and back.

When the bile duct gets blocked, it does not allow the flow of bile juice into the intestines. This causes backflow of bile leading to change in color of skin and eye of the child. You may observe symptoms of jaundice in children such as yellowing of eyes and skin.

The child may suddenly develop high fever that is about 100.4° F (38° C). The fever is accompanied by chills. This symptom is very commonly observed in case of acute gallbladder problems in children.

Gastrointestinal Disorders
Children may develop many gastrointestinal problems due to gallbladder problems. They may become intolerant towards certain type of foods. You may observe the child often vomits, suffers from nausea, burping, bleaching, gas and indigestion, especially after meals.

Treatment for Gallbladder Problems in Children

The gallbladder problems in children can be treated in many ways. The child may be put on a gallbladder disease diet to avoid and control the symptoms. He will tell you about the foods to avoid gallstones from getting worse in children. If the gallstones do not cause any problems, no treatment is generally required. However, if the symptoms are too severe, the doctor may recommend a gallbladder surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) or gallstones in children.

This was some information on gallbladder disease in children. Although gallbladder problems in children are not life-threatening, they do require management to avoid complications. If you want to know more, speak to your child's pediatrician for more details.
By Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: 10/11/2011
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