What to do when your gallbladder starts playing up

You probably don’t give your gallbladder too much consideration, but when it starts causing you trouble… You certainly know about it! A gallbladder that’s acting up can cause you pain and often requires immediate action.

In case you weren’t aware, your gallbladder is about 4 inches long, pear-shaped and sits under your liver. It’s responsible for storing the bile your liver makes in order to digest fat.

If you’ve got a healthy gallbladder, the process between the liver and the gallbladder happens without any pain, but when it stops working or the bile ducts become blocked, you’ll have pain and discomfort on your hands.

Gallstones is the most comment gallbladder complaint. Gallstones occur when too much fat and bile cause crystals to form, which — over time — expand and turn into stones. You can have them as small as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball.

Another common complaint is when your gallbladder becomes inflamed. This happens if a gallstone blocks the tube that the bile uses to travel in and out of the gallbladder. With bile backing up, it causes and irritation to the gallbladder that leads to swelling and infection.

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If you are experiencing pain in your upper- or mid-right section of your abdomen it could be a sign you have a gallbladder issue. Other symptoms include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • a fever or shaking chills
  • changes in your bowel movements
  • changes in your urine habits
  • a yellowing of the skin (jaundice).

You’ll be wanting to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you think you’re having a problem with your gallbladder. If you’re experiencing any mild, intermittent pain that goes away on its own though, the attention from a medical practitioner does not necessarily need to be immediate.

You need immediate medical assistance when:

  • the pain is in the upper-right quadrant and does not fade after 5 hours
  • you have a fever, nausea or are vomiting
  • there are changes in bowel movement and urine.
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Doctors can easily treat your gallbladder problem, and treatment includes surgery, medication and/or antibiotics.

However, you can also take action to reduce the risk of developing a gallbladder problem. You don’t want to be indulging in a diet high in calories, but low in fibre for a start. Neither do you want to gain nor lose weight rapidly.

Do you have a history of gallbladder complaints? What other health issues concern you as you get older?