Most of us don’t give much thought to our gallbladder in our day to day lives. Responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid in digestion, this vital organ typically functions well without cause for concern. However, problems with the gallbladder do occur, and can lead to serious health issues.
Knowing how to spot a gallbladder issue early will ensure it doesn’t turn into something more sinister. Here, you’ll discover some of the most common gallbladder problems to be aware of, and what to do if you have one.
Common gallbladder problems
Getting to know the most common gallbladder issues ensures you can catch them early if they do occur. Here’s a look at some common gallbladder problems you may experience…
Gallstones are by far one of the most common gallbladder problems. Stones of various sizes are created from excess levels of cholesterol and bilirubin. In more than 90% of cases, patients don’t experience any symptoms. However, they may cause some level of pain or discomfort.
Gallstones that do cause symptoms, have typically been in the gallbladder for up to 10 years.
A perforated gallbladder is a serious problem that could prove life threatening. It occurs due to untreated inflammation, and will typically cause severe, sharp pain as it bursts. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever, and jaundice.
If you experience a perforated gallbladder, you will need emergency surgery to remove it.
While most of the time gallstones don’t cause any symptoms, they can potentially block bile from reaching the small intestine. This results in bursts of severe pain known as biliary colic. The pain is caused by vigorous contractions of the gallbladder as it tries to unblock the stones.
The pain will last for around one to five hours, and the pain may linger on for 24 hours or more. Some patients find that biliary colic episodes come on after eating a fatty or large meal.
The gallbladder can become inflamed due to infections, excessive alcohol use, and rarely tumours. Sometimes, gallbladder polyps form due to cholesterol deposits in the gallbladder wall. However, 95% polys are typically small and benign.
The most common cause of inflammation is gallstones. They can irritate the walls of the gallbladder, causing them to become inflamed and sore. Occasionally, it can lead to an infection, but most of the time it will ease within a few hours or days.
What to do if you suspect a gallbladder problem
Gallbladder symptoms usually start with pain in the upper right or centre of the abdominal area. If you have been experiencing any symptoms that are causing concern, you should book an appointment with your doctor. Gallstones don’t always require removal, but your surgeon will organise a scan and can recommend treatment options.
Gallbladder removal is a straightforward procedure, and the body can function well without one. Book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today to have your gallbladder problem assessed, and to start an appropriate treatment plan.