Around 15% of the US population suffers from gallbladder problems; that’s a staggering 20 million people.
Gallbladder issues can cause a whole host of pains and problems, and if left untreated they can pose a significant risk to your health. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments for gallbladder problems is important.
Here’s a rundown on the symptoms of a bad gallbladder.
What Does Your Gallbladder Do?
Let’s first answer the question of what your gallbladder is and what it does.
The gallbladder is a small organ, roughly 4 inches in size, and it is located underneath your liver on the upper right-hand side of your abdomen. The gallbladder is where bile is stored.
The term ‘bile’ refers to a mixture of liquids that work to break down fat in your lower intestine. A functioning gallbladder is a vital component of a healthy digestive system.
Symptoms of a Bad Gallbladder
If you have an issue with your gallbladder, your body will let you know in various ways. Listed below are some of the more common symptoms of a bad gallbladder.
You may not experience all of these symptoms, but you’ll likely experience at least one of them.
The first and most common symptom of a bad gallbladder will be pain. The pain will come and go and usually comes on strongest just after finishing a meal.
You’ll experience a steady or gnawing discomfort in the upper right-hand side of your abdomen, near your rib cage.
Fever and Chills
If you’re suffering from an infection, you may experience a fever that you cannot explain the cause of. If you think you have an infection, you should seek medical help as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body.
Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea
Because your gallbladder is part of your digestive system, you may experience nausea and vomiting. If the pain in your upper abdomen is accompanied by vomiting, it’s likely to be a gallbladder problem.
People with chronic gallbladder problems may also experience bouts of diarrhea.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin. While most commonly associated with liver problems, jaundice caused by gallbladder issues is usually attributed to the presence of a blockage or stones in the common bile duct.
If you’re still asking yourself, “do I have a bad gallbladder?” then it will help you to keep an eye on your urine.
If you notice that your urine has suddenly developed a darker color than usual, this could also signify stones in your common bile duct.
What Causes Gallbladder Problems?
Now you know some of the most common symptoms of a bad gallbladder, you’ll be wondering what exactly causes them.
There are many different types of gallbladder problems, most of which fall under the umbrella term of ‘gallbladder disease.’
Here’s a list of some of the most common causes of a bad gallbladder.
The most common cause of many gallbladder problems is gallstones.
Gallstones are small, solid deposits of cholesterol. They occur when high levels of fat and bile form crystals. As these crystals lump together, they form into gallstones. They can range in size from less than a millimeter to 5cm in diameter.
Inflammation of the gallbladder is known as cholecystitis, and it occurs when gallstones prevent bile from leaving the gallbladder. When excess bile begins to build up inside the organ, your gallbladder will start to swell.
Cases of inflammation can either be acute (short term) or chronic (long term). Chronic inflammation can permanently damage your gallbladder, so it’s best to get it seen by a doctor.
If gallstones or inflammation are left untreated for too long, your gallbladder may eventually perforate. This is the appearance of a small hole in the wall of the organ.
This is a severe emergency, and you should seek immediate medical attention if you think your gallbladder has perforated. This is because it can lead to and spread infection throughout your body, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Common Bile Duct Stones
Common bile duct stones are made of a similar material to gallstones. Bile is transported between your gallbladder and your small intensities by small tubes. These tubes deposit the bile in your bile duct on the way.
Small stones (that often start in your gallbladder) can lodge in these tubes and cause infection.
Unfortunately, one of the more serious causes of gallbladder problems is gallbladder cancer.
It’s an extremely rare form of cancer, but it can happen to anyone. You’re more likely to develop gallbladder cancer if you already suffer from gallstones. Other risk factors include old age and obesity.
How to Treat a Bad Gallbladder
Depending on the nature of your gallbladder symptoms, there are several treatment options available.
If your gallstones or cholecystitis is mild, you won’t need to treat it right away, but take it as a warning that you could be susceptible to gallbladder problems in the future.
However, if your symptoms are more severe or you think you have an infection, you’ll need to seek treatment. One of the most common treatments for these issues is gallbladder removal surgery.
These surgeries are often less invasive than they seem, and you should see a quick recovery time.
Other treatments include medication that breaks down gallstones and antibiotics to fight infection.
Get a Consultation
The article above is not intended to be exhaustive, but it is a good starting point for understanding the symptoms of a bad gallbladder. You’ll also now be familiar with some of the common causes and treatments of these symptoms.
If you require gallbladder removal surgery, contact us today to book a consultation.