Gallbladder Disease

Your gallbladder, a tiny bile-producing sac tucked behind your liver, has an important function—it releases bile (produced by the liver) into the intestines and helps break down fats. If your gallbladder goes awry it can spell big health troubles, which can lead to a change of diet or the removal of the organ altogether.

Depending on risk factors such as gender (females are more likely to have these problems), age and lifestyle, you can develop gallstones that block the flow of bile, or you can develop a range of gallbladder disease. In any case, you will experience symptoms that are less than pleasant. Here are some signs to watch for:

1. Acute Pain
If you have pain in the upper right side or middle of your abdomen directly after consuming a meal, then you may have acute cholecystitis, the most common gallbladder disease.

This condition is usually caused by gallstones (from calcium buildup or cholesterol), but it can also result from tumors. The pain can be sharp twinges to dull aching that extend all the way up your right shoulder. This condition can lead to a chronic version, which will lead to your gallbladder losing its function.

2. Fever
If you develop a fever (usually accompanied by abdominal pain) then you may be dealing with a gallbladder problem. Your gallbladder can become inflamed when a gallstone gets trapped in the neck, resulting in the disease called cholecystitis.

The inflammation is caused by bile buildup in the gallbladder due to the blockage. It also warns that untreated cholecystitis can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture. Removal of the organ is common in this case.

3. Jaundice
The yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes can be a symptoms of a gallbladder disease. The yellowing of the skin is the result of an abundance of bilirubin in your blood, which is referred to as hyperbilirubinemia.

While jaundice can be the result of various problems, gallbladder issues can be one of them. Bilirubin is usually eliminated from the body through bile ducts and into stool or urine, but a blockage of the ducts can result in a buildup, which ends up in the skin.

4. Irregular Stool Color
One of the telltale signs of a gallbladder issue is lighter than usual looking stool. You might also have a “chalky” looking bowel movement. The reason is because of excess fats in the stool that the bile is not effectively breaking down.

If you’re having any of the problems already described but you’re not one to examine your own stool on a regular basis, perhaps now is a good time to start for the sake of your health. Or, a trip to the doctor may in order for some tests.

5. Diarrhea
Another problem of the stool elimination process related to a gallbladder issue is diarrhea or loose stool, which is another sign that there is excess fats in the digestive tract that aren’t being broken down properly.

It is common for someone with a bad gallbladder to experience frequent and prolonged bouts of diarrhea. So while many people have this problem once in a while, if it becomes a regular thing then you will want to get it checked out by a professional.

6. Shaking and Chills
If you’re getting the shakes and it’s not necessarily from being cold, then you may have a health issue going on. Shaking and feeling “chills” can actually be a sign of a gallbladder “attack,” which is a common occurrence when you have a related disease.

The shaking is a result of a bacterial infection in the gallbladder. The symptoms can get worse depending on how much of a bile tract is being blocked by a stone. A medical scan can usually determine this.

7. Nausea and Vomiting
Feeling sick to your stomach is a common symptoms of all gallbladder-related diseases. But only chronic gallbladder disease may cause digestive problems, such as acid reflux, gas, nausea, and vomiting.

You may feel sick constantly when you have a sick gallbladder. You will likely feel more sickly right after a meal, and it’s usually accompanied by other symptoms from heartburn to bloating. Dizziness may also be present, so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.