Your gallbladder is an organ near the stomach that collects bile from the liver. It stores this liquid for digestion, sending it down the bile duct into the small intestine. Under certain circumstances, chemical imbalances in the gallbladder may cause stones to form, or the organ may simply become infected. In either case, these may lead to blockage of the common bile duct, swelling of the gallbladder, and general pain and abdominal discomfort.
A gallbladder attack is the result of these factors, and the symptoms may include:
- Chest or back pain: Given the gallbladder’s location in the upper right area of the chest, a common sign of a gallbladder attack would be pain in that area. Usually, it lasts for about 15 minutes, but sometimes it lingers for hours. Also, the pain tends to radiate out toward your back (particularly under the right shoulder blade) and stomach.
- Indigestion and vomiting: Pain or inflammation in the gallbladder could lead to indigestion, including nausea, gas, abdominal discomfort, and vomiting.
- Fever: Fever may accompany vomiting, and usually results from an infection in the bile duct. A serious fever coupled with nausea/vomiting may indicate acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), a potentially life-threatening condition, so it’s important to see a doctor if this occurs.
- Jaundice: If the bile duct is blocked by a gallstone, then an increased level of the waste product bilirubin may enter the bloodstream, leading to a yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes.
- Explosive diarrhea: Along with belly pain and fever, you may experience intense bowel movements and stool changes. Diarrhea that occurs frequently during the day may indicate gallbladder problems, especially if it’s white or chalky in color. Bloody diarrhea may be indicative of a larger problem, please consult your doctor if you experience this symptom.
The symptoms you experience can help you determine how serious the attack really is. You may need to see a doctor and even endure gallbladder surgery to solve the problem. Dr. Malladi of Malladi Bariatrics and Advanced Surgery specializes in minimally invasive abdominal surgery and can help treat gallbladder attacks resulting from infection or gallstones.