The bile ducts carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. Bile is a green to yellow-brown fluid that helps our body to digest and absorb fats. It also helps to clear waste from the liver.
When the bile ducts get inflamed or blocked, bile can back up into the liver. This can lead to liver damage and other problems. Some types of cholangitis are mild. Other kinds can be serious and life threatening.
Types of Cholangitis
There are two main types of cholangitis:
- Chronic cholangitis happens slowly over time. It can cause symptoms for years.
- Acute cholangitis happens suddenly. It can cause symptoms over a short time period.
Symptoms of Cholangitis
Some early symptoms of chronic cholangitis may include:
- Itchy skin
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- High fever for more than 24 hoursTrusted Source
- Pain or cramps in the upper right side of your abdomen
- Back pain
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Dark urine
- Low blood pressure
If one have chronic cholangitis for a long time,one may have:
- Pain in the upper right side
- Night sweats
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Muscle pain
- Bone or joint pain
- Bloating (fluid in the stomach area)
- Fat deposits (xanthomas) in the skin around the eyes and eyelids
- Fat deposits in the elbows, knees, palms, and soles of the feet
- Diarrhea or greasy bowel movements
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Mood changes and memory problems
Causes of Cholangitis
There is a range of causes for cholangitis, but sometimes the cause is not known.
Chronic (long-term) cholangitis may be an autoimmune disease. This means that our body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the bile ducts. This causes inflammation.
Over time, inflammation can trigger scars or the growth of hard tissue inside the bile ducts. The scarring makes the ducts hard and narrow. They can also block smaller ducts.
- Bacterial infection
Environmental causes of both acute and chronic cholangitis may be due to:
- Infections (bacteria, virus, fungi, or parasites)
Risk factors that might increase our chance of getting cholangitis include: