Your gallbladder is a small organ on the upper right side of your abdomen that’s responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid in digestion. As with any organ or system in the body, problems can occur. When bile and minerals develop into deposits or gallstones in the gallbladder, this can lead to very severe and sudden pain. Recognizing the signs of a gallbladder attack can mean getting the quicker care you need from a gastroenterologist.
What is a gallbladder attack?
A gallbladder attack is often what happens when there is a gallstone blockage in the duct of the gallbladder. Symptoms can last where from a few minutes to a few hours, but it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you are dealing with severe abdominal pain. The attack may go away on its own without any complications, but it’s still important that you schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to make sure that your symptoms are due to a gallbladder attack and to rule out other potential health problems.
What are the signs and symptoms of a gallbladder attack?
Wondering if you could be dealing with a gallbladder attack? You could be if you are experiencing:
- A dull, sharp, or cramping pain in the upper right side or center of the abdomen
- Pain that radiates to the back or shoulder blades
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (also known as jaundice)
Are there risk factors for gallstones?
As with most health problems, certain risk factors could increase your chances of developing gallstones. You may be more likely to experience gallstones during your lifetime if:
- You have a family history of gallstones or gallbladder problems
- You are obese or overweight
- You have a low-fiber, high-cholesterol diet
- You take certain medications such as birth control or hormone replacement therapy
- You have diabetes
- You are pregnant
- You are over 40 years old
- You have been diagnosed with liver disease
How is a gallbladder attack treated?
If the gallstone is passed on its own without problems then no treatment is necessary; however, sometimes medications or shockwaves are used to break up the gallstones. If you are dealing with recurring gallbladder pain, your gastroenterologist may recommend having your gallbladder removed.
If you are dealing with severe or sudden abdominal pain it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, as a gallbladder attack isn’t the only thing that can lead to sudden stomach pain. If you find yourself dealing with frequent gallbladder issues you may wish to speak with a gastroenterologist about whether to have the organ removed.