What causes gallbladder pain?

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. It is a four-inch, pear-shaped organ. It is situated under your liver in the upper-right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine. Gallbladder Problems occur when there is blockage or infection.

Alt text= Gallbladder problems
Gallbladder Problems

The gallbladder stores bile, a combination of fluids, fat, and cholesterol. Especially bile helps break down fat from food in your intestine. It delivers bile into the small intestine. Such as this allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

Gallbladder problems and their symptoms

Gallbladder conditions share similar symptoms. These include:

Pain

The most common symptom of a gallbladder problem is pain. Generally, this pain usually occurs in the mid to upper-right section of your abdomen.It can be mild and intermittent, or it can be quite severe and frequent. In some cases, the pain can begin to radiate to other areas of the body, including the back and chest.

Nausea or vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of all types of gallbladder problems. However, only chronic gallbladder disease may cause digestive problems, such as acid reflux and gas.

Fever or chills

Chills or an unexplained fever may signal that you have an infection. If you have an infection, you need treatment before it worsens and becomes dangerous. For the most part, the infection can become life-threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body.

Chronic diarrhea

Having more than four bowel movements per day for at least three months may be a sign of chronic gallbladder disease.

Jaundice

Coupled with yellow-tinted skin, or jaundice may be a sign of a block or stone in the common bile duct. Particularly the common bile duct is the channel that leads from the gallbladder to the small intestine.

Unusual stools or urine

Lighter-coloured stools and dark urine are possible signs of a common bile duct block.

Potential Gallbladder Problems

Any disease that affects it is considered gallbladder disease. The following conditions are all gallbladder diseases.

Inflammation of the gallbladder

Inflammation of the gallbladder is called cholecystitis. It can be either acute (short-term), or chronic (long-term).

Thus chronic inflammation is the result of several acute cholecystitis attacks. Inflammation may eventually damage the gallbladder, making it lose its ability to function correctly.

Gallstones

Gallstones are small, hardened deposits that form in the gallbladder. Therefore these deposits can develop and go undetected for years.

Many people have gallstones and aren’t aware of them. They eventually cause problems, including inflammation, infection, and pain. Gallstones typically cause acute cholecystitis.

Gallbladder Problems

Gallstones are usually very small, no more than a few millimetres wide. However, they can grow to several centimetres. Some people develop only one gallstone, while others develop several. In the meantime, as the stones grow in size, they can begin to block the channels that lead out of the gallbladder.

Most gallstones are formed from cholesterol found in the gallbladder’s bile. Another type of gallstone, a pigment stone, is built from calcium bilirubin. Calcium bilirubin is a chemical that produces when the body breaks down red blood cells. Especially this type of stone is rarer.

Common bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis)

When stones occur in the common bile duct, it’s known as choledocholithiasis. Bile is ejected from the gallbladder, passed through small tubes, and deposited in the common bile duct. It then enters the small intestine.

In most cases, common bile duct stones are actually gallstones that developed in the gallbladder and then passed into the bile duct. This type of stone is called a secondary common bile duct stone, or secondary stone.

Sometimes stones form in the common bile duct itself. These stones are called primary common bile duct stones, or primary stones. This rare type of stone is more likely to cause an infection than a secondary stone.

Disease without stones

Gallstones don’t cause every type of every problem. Gallbladder disease without stones, also called acalculous gallbladder disease, can occur. In this case, you may experience symptoms commonly associated with gallstones without actually having stones.

Common bile duct infection

In brief, the obstruction can occur if there is an infection in the bile duct. Generally, treatment for this condition is successful if the infection is found early. Besides if it’s not, the infection may spread and become fatal.

Abscess of the gallbladder

A small percentage of people with gallstones may also develop pus in the gallbladder as Empyema.

Together with pus is a combination of white blood cells, bacteria, and dead tissue. The development of pus, also known as an abscess, leads to severe abdominal pain. Detection of empyema is very essential, or it may become life-threatening as the infection spreads to other parts of the body.

Gallstone ileus

However, a gallstone may travel into the intestine and block it. This condition, known as gallstone ileus, is rare but can be fatal. It’s most common among individuals who are older than 65 years old.

Perforation

If you wait too long to seek treatment, gallstones can lead to a perforated gallbladder. This is a life-threatening condition. Detection of the tear is very important to stop the spreading or it may be very dangerous creating an abdominal infection.

Polyps

Polyps are abnormal tissue growths. These growths are typically benign, or noncancerous. It is not so essential to remove small polyps. In most cases, they don’t pose any risk to you or your gallbladder.

However, by a surgical procedure larger polyps removal is essential before they develop into cancer or cause other problems.

Porcelain gallbladder

Condition of a porcelain gallbladder. A healthy gallbladder has very muscular walls. Over time, calcium deposits can stiffen the walls, making them rigid.

If you have this condition, you have a high risk of developing gallbladder cancer.

Gallbladder cancer

Cancer is rare. Early detection is essential or it may spread quickly.

Treatment

Treatment will depend on your specific problem and may include:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Aleve, Motrin)
  • prescription pain medication, such as hydrocodone and morphine (Duramorph, Kadian)
  • lithotripsy, a procedure that uses shock waves to break apart gallstones and other masses
  • surgery to remove gallstones
  • surgery to remove the entire gallbladder

Not all cases will require medical treatment. You may also be able to find pain relief with natural remedies, such as exercise and a heated compress.

Diet

If you’re experiencing gallbladder problems, you may find it beneficial to adjust your diet. Foods that may aggravate gallbladder disease include:

  • foods high in trans fats and other unhealthy fats
  • processed foods
  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar

Instead, try to build your diet around:

  • fiber-rich fruits and vegetables 
  • calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy and dark leafy greens
  • foods containing vitamin C, such as berries
  • plant-based protein such as tofu, beans, and lentils
  • healthy fats, such as nuts and fish
  • coffee, which reduces your risk of gallstones and other gallbladder diseases

When to see a doctor

Symptoms may come and go. However, you’re more likely to develop a problem if you’ve had one before.

While gallbladder problems are rarely deadly, still be treatment is essential. You can prevent problems from worsening if you take action and see a doctor. Symptoms that should prompt you to seek immediate medical attention include:

  • abdominal pain that lasts at least 5 hours
  • jaundice
  • pale stools
  • sweating low-grade fever, or chills, if they’re accompanied by the above symptoms