Your gallbladder isn’t likely an organ you give much thought to, until something goes wrong. When a problem crops up and you develop gallbladder disease, the symptoms can be tough to ignore.
To help you recognize the signs of gallbladder disease, our team of general surgeons at Rockwall Surgical Specialists presents the most common indications of trouble here and what might be causing them, as well as what you can do about problems with your gallbladder.
About your gallbladder
Before we get into the signs of an unhealthy gallbladder, let’s briefly review what this organ does when it’s in good health.
Your gallbladder is a small, 3- to 6-inch pear-shaped organ in your abdomen that stores bile produced by your liver. Your gallbladder then releases the bile into your small intestine to help your body digest fat.
Signs of a problem in your gallbladder
If you develop a problem in your gallbladder, the symptoms can be awfully hard to ignore. They include:
This symptom likely grabs your attention first. Most people with gallbladder disease initially develop biliary colic, which causes intermittent pain in your upper right abdomen, around your rib cage.
This pain can become stronger if there’s a blockage or an infection, and even inhaling can be uncomfortable. The pain can also travel up into your right shoulder.
Fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting
If your pain becomes severe, it’s likely that there's an infection, which can lead to fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting — signs that your body is trying to fight back.
If the whites of your eyes and your skin begin to take on a yellowish color, this might be a sign of gallbladder disease, Called jaundice, this side effect occurs when you have higher-than-normal bilirubin levels, which can occur when there’s an obstruction in the bile ducts in your gallbladder.
Darker urine and lighter stool
Another sign of potential gallbladder disease is urine that’s darker in color and stool that's lighter.
What drives gallbladder symptoms
In a majority of cases, gallbladder disease is caused by gallstones, which affect about 25 million people in the United States. Gallstones develop when there’s excess cholesterol or bilirubins that form hard deposits that can block your bile ducts.
Many people have gallstones in their gallbladder but have no symptoms if the stones don’t create blockages. It’s only when the stones move and obstruct the ducts that symptoms arise. As a result of the blockages, you can develop cholecystitis, or inflammation in your gallbladder.
In most cases, the best way to resolve gallbladder disease is to remove the gallbladder. If you’re worried about life without a gallbladder, you needn’t be — your digestive tract still functions well without the organ as your liver simply secretes the bile directly into your intestines.
We also want to assure you that you’re in good hands as our team has extensive experience performing gallbladder surgery. And you’re going to feel a lot better after the procedure because you won’t be dealing with painful blockages anymore.
If you have a gallbladder problem, please contact us at one of our locations — in Rockwall, Rowlett, Greenville, Terrell, and Forney, Texas — for an expert surgical evaluation.