Gallbladder Symptoms To Watch Out For
When the gallbladder is not functioning properly, you may experience a host of uncomfortable symptoms and pain. To understand which ones to watch out for, it is helpful to first understand how this little digestive organ works, and why certain gallbladder symptoms occur.
The gallbladder is a small, oblong organ, located just below the liver to the right side of the abdomen. The function of the gallbladder is primarily to store bile secreted by the liver and release the right amounts to help break down the fat in our meals. Bile is a greenish fluid made up of salts, digestive enzymes and cholesterol which emulsifies fat for effective absorption. It also ensures that we absorb and utilize our fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.
A healthy, functioning gallbladder contracts to release bile into the small intestine via the common bile duct. The gallbladder also drains waste products from the liver into small intestine, however, when there is a health problem, such as obstruction caused by gallstones, the gallbladder becomes inflamed and bile is unable to flow normally. In chronic or severe cases, bile builds up and creates pressure in the gallbladder. The condition which describes severe gallbladder symptoms, including spasms due to inflammation, is known as cholecystitis.
Since one of the primary functions of the gallbladder and bile is to aid with the digestion of fats, when the gallbladder isn’t functioning properly, the body will be working overtime trying to digest fats. This is why gallbladder related pain is most often felt after meals, especially fatty or greasy meals.
Inefficient fat digestion can lead to the following:
- Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen, which may also radiate to the right shoulder, back or in between the shoulder blades. This type of pain may be chronic and recurring, or dull and intermittent. Pain that is severe and does not go away on its own is usually a symptom to watch out for, as medical attention may be required.
- Gas, bloating, or nausea that usually develops soon after a meal, especially one high in fat content.
- Another tell-tale sign of a gallbladder issue to watch out for is a change in the colour of the stool. Stools may become light and chalky in color, and darkened urine.
- In some cases nausea, vomiting, and frequent unexplained diarrhoea also occur
- When symptoms are coupled with fever and chills it may be an indication of infection, and medical attention should be sought.
There are less common gallbladder symptoms which are also important to watch out for as they may signal gallbladder disease. These include:
- Painful feet
- Sore tongue
- Rectal itching
- Peeling or blistering of the skin on the fingers and palms of hands
- Blinding flashes of light in the visual fields
- Persistently runny nose
Although many people have gallstones and occasional gallbladder issues, symptoms often resolve on their own after implementing healthy lifestyle choices, safe, effective natural supplements and dietary changes.