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Gallbladder Attack Symptoms

The attacks or problems related to the gallbladder are usually very painful and can cause a lot of uneasiness. Elucidated in this article are a few causes that might lead to a gallbladder attack, its predominant symptoms, along with some remedial measures that can be taken.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2018
Most people who suffer from gallbladder attacks are not aware that it is the onset of a gallbladder disorder. The related symptoms are seen in case of overeating, high fat intake, older women, and diabetics; and they are so painful that the day-to-day activities of the individual gets affected or compromised.

Fortuitously, a human being can live without this particular organ; therefore, many a time, removal of the gallbladder -- a surgical procedure that is termed as cholecystectomy, solves a lot of problems associated with it.

Surgery is the last resort, besides not being the only solution. Therefore, in the coming paragraphs, we will discuss in some detail about the factors that are related to this kind of condition, the various symptoms that one may experience in such a case, the different measures that can be taken in order to alleviate the symptoms, and who all have a higher probability of experiencing this kind of attack.

Location and Function of This Organ

The gallbladder is a large, pear-shaped sac in the abdominal area, under the liver. Its main function is to store bile juice which is produced by the liver, in order to digest fat. When the food gets digested by the stomach and intestines, the gallbladder lets out the bile juice via the bile duct -- a duct that links the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.

What Might Lead to An Attack?

Issues related to the gallbladder happen when the flow of bile gets blocked in the bile duct. This can generally be gallstones. Gallstones cause a lot of pain and discomfort, especially when they enter the ducts. These gallstones may be as small as a sand grain or even as big as a golf ball; and although in some cases one may not think much of it, it is very common that affects around 25 million Americans every year! The pain experienced is termed as a gallbladder attack. Besides, polyps or cancer are a few gallbladder diseases or problems that can develop in the gallbladder.

» Stones that enter the bile duct and make their way to the duodenum of the small intestine
» An infected gallbladder which gets inflamed, a condition known as cholecystitis
» Hypothyroidism, as it is responsible for metabolism, which eventually affects digestion
» Certain kinds of food allergies that induce histamine, and stack up extra fluid in the bile ducts

Symptoms of a Gallbladder Attack

An acute gallbladder attack occurs mostly at night or after having a fatty meal. One may initially feel a steady but severe pain in the upper abdominal area. Pain may also be felt in the shoulders, mostly the right shoulder, as well as between the shoulder blades. Other symptoms that an individual may experience are as follows:

» Burping or belching
» Vomiting
» Nausea
» Gas
» Restlessness
» Fever with chills
» Severe pain on the right side of the rib cage
» Extreme tenderness of the gallbladder
» Difficulty in walking or sitting up straight due to the pain
» Chest pain on the right side (either due to stones or gallbladder inflammation)
» Severe upper abdominal pain
» Bitter fluid coming up in the mouth after eating
» Headache just around or above the eyes, especially at night

One may also notice a few signs of jaundice, like yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes. This usually happens when the bile duct gets blocked by the gallstones, and the bile juice gets stacked up in the liver. It eventually starts leaking into the bloodstream.

Milk, beans, pork, eggs, onions, and certain nuts can also trigger a gallbladder attack. It is also seen that coffee, grapefruit, oranges, corn, beans, and alcohol may lead to the signs of a gallbladder problem.

Who is at a Higher Risk?

Gallbladder-related problems can affect anybody, but a few individuals are more prone to it as compared to others.

You are at a slightly higher risk if you...

... are over 55 to 60 years of age.
... have heredity of gallbladder problems.
... are diabetic.
... are a woman.
... are under some medication(s).
... are overweight and obese.
... are Mexican-American or Native American.

How to Alleviate the Symptoms

When an individual begins to experience a true gallbladder attack, he/she needs to take some steps in order to help reduce the intensity of the pain and discomfort felt.
  • Lie down immediately on a couch or bed. Turn to your left and press the pillow against this side of the body to help release the pressure from the gallbladder.
  • You can try resting your back on a high-backed chair, raise your arms straight up, and then lean them backwards. Remain in the same position till the pain subsides.
  • If you are experiencing nausea, then try to bring up; but do not force yourself. Remember that nausea is one of the symptoms one experiences.
  • It is believed that consumption of cucumber or its juice and tea with flaxseeds brings relief to gallbladder attack symptoms.
  • Try to have a bowel movement, as the attack might sometimes be triggered due to the waste present in the body.
  • If no other remedy works, visit your doctor, who might decide on a surgical procedure to remove the distressed organ. The absence of a gallbladder would not lead to any serious health issues; although, an individual may experience diarrhea for a few days.
An attack may last for as little as 15 minutes to as much as 15 hours. If fever and chills are accompanied with an attack, seek medical help immediately. The symptoms may intensify and cause the skin and whites of the eye to turn yellow. This is because the bile juice backs up in the liver, leading to jaundice. In case of moderate symptoms, the doctor may prescribe paracetamol or ibuprofen.

A gallbladder attack causes excruciating pain, and is often confused with other symptoms of liver-, kidney-, pancreas-, stomach- or even appendix-related problems. Consult your doctor and choose the correct line of treatment for your gallbladder attack.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is purely for informative purposes, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.