The gallbladder is often taken for granted. Unlike the heart or the liver, we don’t often see headlines on “How to have a healthy gallbladder.” Patients at Premier Surgical sometimes confess they didn’t even know what the gallbladder did exactly—until there were problems. Learn more in our Gallbladder 101 eBook.
Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ just under your liver. It stores bile, which is a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, the gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct to your small intestine. Most gallbladder problems occur when substances in the bile harden, creating gallstones which can block the duct.
The American Gastroenterological Association suggests more than 25 million Americans have gallstones with 1 million new cases diagnosed annually. Less commonly, cancer can form in the gallbladder.
Most gallbladder issues are initially indicated by pain in the upper right or middle abdomen. The most common symptoms of gallbladder problems are:
- Abdominal pain, which may range from dull to sharp, and which may worsen after eating a fatty meal
- Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
- Sensation of fullness in the abdomen
- Vomiting or nausea
- Fever, shaking, and chills
- Tenderness in the upper right abdomen
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Light or clay unusually colored stool
According to the National Institute of Health, gallstones cause the majority of gallbladder problems. Eating fatty or greasy food can irritate a gallbladder condition, since there’s not as much bile to manage the digestion process. Certain risk factors may also increase your chance of developing gallstones, such as genetics, and obesity. Talk with your physician about your family history and your lifestyle.
Many people have little to no awareness of their gallbladder until it begins to cause pain. If you experience gallbladder symptoms you should seek the consult of a physician to receive prompt treatment. Gallbladder problems left untreated can turn into serious medical emergencies. Gallbladder attacks can be extremely painful and frightening. If you cannot find relief from symptoms or you experience a sudden intensifying of pain or present fever, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Premier Surgical Associates is the largest surgical group in the Knoxville region, providing comprehensive surgical care, with referrals from across the entire East Tennessee Region. To learn more about Premier Surgical Associates visit our website at www.premiersurgical.com.