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5 Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems You Need to Know

5 Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems You Need to Know

One of the most overlooked organs of our body is the gallbladder. You barely notice its presence when it’s working fine. However, when it starts malfunctioning, your body starts sending you signals that you cannot ignore.

What is the gallbladder? It is a 4-inch pear-shaped organ found beneath your liver in the upper right of the abdomen. It stores fat, bile, fluids, and cholesterol. The gallbladder helps deliver bile into the small intestine. Bile helps in breaking down fat from food in the intestine and enables fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be absorbed into the blood.

The gallbladder does not cause any problems unless something slows or blocks the bile flow from it. When this happens, a few problems can surface.

Pain is the most common symptom. It occurs in the midsection of your abdomen and can extend up to the upper right. The pain can be mild, intermittent or severe, and, in most cases, rather frequent. It can extend to the back, chest, and other areas of the body as well.

An unexplained fever can be a symptom of a gallbladder infection. This fever is a dangerous symptom, and treatment becomes imperative to prevent infection from spreading to other parts of the body.

Chronic diarrhea
Having bowel movements after a meal, usually more than four times a day for at least three months can be an indication of a chronic gallbladder problem.

Nausea or vomiting
These are common symptoms associated with gallbladder problems. A chronic gallbladder problem can cause gas, acid reflux, nausea, and vomiting.

Unusual urine and stool
Light colored stools and dark colored urine are possible signs of a blockage in the bile duct.

Simple gallstones that do not obstruct the cystic duct may not show any symptoms at all. These are often discovered during a CT scan or an X-ray performed to diagnose some other condition or during an abdominal surgery.

Here are some of the gallbladder problems that one can suffer.

Biliary colic
In this condition, a person can suffer from severe pain caused by blockage of the cystic duct. The gallbladder starts to contract vigorously against the obstruction, causing severe spasmodic or constant pain. This condition can last for an hour or two, depending on its severity. Biliary colic also has a tendency to recur.

Cholecystitis or inflamed gallbladder
Infections or tumors in the gallbladder due to bile build-up along with excessive consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation in the gallbladder. However, the most common cause of this condition is the presence of gallstones. The body reacts to this by making the gallbladder walls swell up, leading to pain. Cholecystitis can last anywhere between a few hours and days, which may be accompanied by fever.
Sometimes, an invasion by the intestinal bacteria can cause gallbladder infections. In some cases, the gallbladder can rupture and will require surgical intervention.
Cholecystitis requires medical attention in any of the above situations, particularly if the individual has a fever.

Cholelithiasis or gallstones
In this condition, small or large stones may develop inside the gallbladder. About 90% of people who have gallstones don’t show any symptoms of gallbladder problems. If however, due to unknown reasons, you have gallstones for more than ten years, you may start to witness serious symptoms or gallbladder problems. In most cases, gallstones can cause biliary colic.

Dysfunctional gallbladder
Due to repeated inflammation and gallstones, the gallbladder may become scarred and rigid. Often, symptoms remain constant but can be vague. An individual may experience indigestion, increased gas formation, and fullness.
One common symptom associated with dysfunctional gallbladder is chronic diarrhea. It can occur up to 10 times a day usually after a meal.

Abscess of gallbladder or empyema
Although this condition affects very few people, it can be life threatening. Here, those who have gallstones can develop an abscess in their gallbladder. The abscess or pus is a combination of bacteria, white blood cells, and dead tissue. This abscess can cause severe pain, and there are chances that it can spread to the other parts of the body. Make sure to get this condition treated at the earliest.

Gallstone ileus
This condition is rare and usually affects people over the age of 65. In this case, a gallstone enters the intestine and blocks it. Make sure to watch out for this as it can be fatal in severe cases.

Perforated gallbladder
This is a life-threatening condition where gallstones cause a perforation of the gallbladder. The tear must be detected early on to avoid any spread of abdominal infection.

Gallbladder polyps
These are non-cancerous growths that develop in the gallbladder. Small polyps usually do not pose any health risk and need not be removed. However, if the polyps are large, they will have to be surgically removed before they cause an infection. In some cases, they can cause cancer.

If you experience symptoms of gallbladder problems, head to your doctor for a complete diagnosis of your conditions. That’s the best way to be sure.

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