Gallbladder Problems and Symptoms

Unless it’s causing you pain, the gallbladder is an organ that often goes unnoticed. You make sure to take extra care of the heart, brain and even your skin but what about your gallbladder? The gallbladder is still an important organ that many people pay no attention to until it’s under attack.

Gallbladder-related issues can cause a range of symptoms, some of which can become so severe your doctor may recommend gallbladder surgery for treatment.

What can go wrong with your gallbladder?

Cholelithiasis or gallstones is a common condition amongst adults in the United States. Gallstones develop inside the gallbladder which can block the flow of bile and possibly cause a backup. Only one-third of people with gallstones experience symptoms of pain known as biliary colic while the majority of gallstones go unnoticed for years.

Biliary colic is the term used to describe severe pain experienced when a gallstone blocks off the cystic duct or the passage connecting the neck of the gallbladder and the common bile duct. Pain produced is a result of the gallbladder contracting rapidly against the blockage, which causes spasmodic pain. Episodes of biliary colic can last anywhere between one and two hours.

Cholecystitis or inflamed gallbladder can be caused by excessive alcohol use, gallstones, infections and tumors that cause bile buildup. An inflamed gallbladder is most often caused by gallstones as the body reacts to the stones’ irritation by causing the walls of the gallbladder to swell and become painful. Fever often accompanies gallbladder inflammation and episodes can last several hours or even a few days. Sometimes, if the gallbladder becomes infected by invading intestinal bacteria emergency gallbladder surgery is required.

Chronic gallbladder disease results from the gallbladder becoming rigid and scarred after repeated episodes of inflammation. Common symptoms include abdominal fullness, increased gas, indigestion and diarrhea.

Symptoms of Gallbladder Issues

Symptoms of gallbladder problems will vary depending on the individual but most people experience similar symptoms that begin with pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdominal area. The following are also common symptoms caused by gallbladder conditions:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Pain extending beneath the right shoulder blade
  • Pain intensified when breathing deeply
  • Pain intensified after eating fatty foods
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Excessive gas
  • Jaundice

Many times, simple gallbladder related issues like gallstones do not cause any symptoms and often go unnoticed until discovered though an X-ray. Though your pain may not be severe, it’s best to speak with Dr. Bass with any issues concerning your gallbladder.