Gallbladder is a small organ, which forms a part of the digestive system. It is shaped like a pear and is located in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity below the liver. It stores the digestive juices and releases it into the intestine for digestion of the fatty food components. Gallbladder contraction is normal after meals when the bile juice is being released for digestion of the food.
However, if this contraction is accompanied by pain, then it could be a symptom of presence of gallstones inside the gallbladder. In such cases, duration of gallbladder spasms is longer and it recurs again and again. Gallstones are hard pebble like structures and are formed due to crystallization of bile components like calcium salts and cholesterol. The gallbladder tends to get inflamed because of the gallstones, which may even block normal flow of bile into the intestine.
Excessive gallbladder contraction can give rise to a localized abdominal pain that may last for a few minutes to few hours. The intensity of the pain varies from mild to severe and it has a tendency to get aggravated during the night. The pain that originates in the upper right side of the abdomen spreads to other areas like shoulder blades, back and hands. The region near upper right abdomen is often tender to touch because of the contraction. If a gallstone gets lodged into the bile duct, then the pain turns so severe that you cannot even stand straight. Besides, there are a number of other digestive symptoms that can be observed in this condition. Such symptoms show up because the bile juice is not available for digestion of foods.
Some common signs and symptoms of gallbladder problems are as follows:
- Recurrent vomiting occurs as the body tries to get rid of the excess bile.
- Acid reflux occurs as the stomach content flows back into the esophagus.
- Bloating of the abdomen is observed.
- Fever is a sign of gallbladder infection.
- Digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation occur as the food is not properly digested.
- Jaundice, which is characterized by yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes is seen. It happens due to excess amount of bile build up in the gallbladder.
When you have gallbladder contraction pain, doctors conduct CT scan and ultrasound to identify the cause. They first try to resolve the issue with nonsurgical methods of treatment. The pain cannot be controlled with the help of pain relieving medicines. Rather, application of heat can bring about some relief. If there are signs of gallbladder infection, then it is treated with the help of antibiotics. Doctors also prescribe some oral medicines for treating the gallstones.
However, the most important aspect of treating gallbladder problem is change in diet. All kinds of fatty foods, greasy foods, etc., should be eliminated from the diet completely as these foods need bile juice for digestion. Fiber rich fruits and vegetables are highly recommended in this condition as they supply enzymes that improve the digestion process. Peas, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc., should also be included in the diet as they improve the digestive health.
Doctors also try to flush out the gallstones by natural means. Olive oil and lemon juice have proved to be highly beneficial in this regard. They should be taken in an empty stomach in the morning for dissolving the gallstones. A number of vegetable juices like beet juice, carrot juice, cucumber juice, etc., help a lot in removal of gallstones and reduce inflammation of the gallbladder. If the gallstones are large in size and the symptoms are so severe that the normal life of the patient is getting affected, then doctors opt for surgical removal of the gallstones. The surgical method is known as cholecystectomy. The patient can lead a normal life after this surgery as the liver now releases the bile juice into the small intestine.
If you experience a right abdominal pain quite often and have digestive issues as well, there is no harm in visiting a doctor for a checkup. Even if you are diagnosed with gallstones, that does not mean that you have to undergo a surgery. With appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle, the problem can be resolved.