The gallbladder is a tiny sac-like organ no larger than four inches located just below the liver. As long as it is functioning properly, most of us don’t even know it’s there. When there is a gallbladder issue, it can cause mild to severe pain and a number of other problems.
Here’s some useful information, including the purpose of the gallbladder, the common signs of gallbladder problems and typical symptoms and pains that accompany those problems.
Role Of The Gallbladder
The gallbladder stores bile from the liver and releases it through ducts into the small intestine. The purpose of bile is to break down fatty foods and help us to digest them properly. As long as this process proceeds without any impairment, all is well.
If the gallbladder doesn’t work properly, or if the flow of bile is slowed or blocked from moving through the ducts and into the intestine, pain and discomfort will follow.
Common Symptoms Of A Gallbladder Problem
Pain is the most common result of a gallbladder issue. It is usually centered in the mid to upper right part of the abdomen under the ribcage. The pain can be mild and irregular to severe and more frequent. The pain can also radiate to the back between the shoulder blades and in the chest area. These symptoms can come and go, but chronic gallbladder issues should not be ignored.
Nausea and vomiting are other signs of chronic gallbladder problems. Watch for increased digestive issues accompanied by acid reflux, indigestion, gas and belching.
Fever and chills which come on unexpectedly could be signs of an infection, and should be evaluated immediately by a medical specialist if combined with other gallbladder symptoms.
Chronic diarrhea is another symptom of gallbladder disease. Going to the bathroom more than four times a day for three months could indicate a problem with the gallbladder.
Jaundice or yellow tinted skin is a sign of bile duct blockage or gallbladder stones.
Unusual color of stools and urine can indicate a gallbladder problem. Stools that are fatty and lighter in color in addition to dark urine signify bile duct blockage.
Individually these symptoms can occur after eating a highly fatty or greasy meal and can be hard to specifically diagnose as a gallbladder issue. Taken in combination the risks are higher that the pains and symptoms involve a gallbladder problem.