The gallbladder attack is also known as biliary colic, a gallstone attack, or acute cholecystitis. When someone has pain in the upper right side of his or her abdomen, then this can be related to your gallbladder. But, you should remember that there can be other causes of pain in this area as well, such as
- Severe constipation
- Heartburn (also known as GERD)
- Shingles infections
- Pancreatitis (known as pancreas inflammation)
- Hepatitis (also known as liver inflammation)
- Liver abscess
- Peptic (also known as the stomach) ulcer
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infection
- Hiatal hernia
Our gallbladder is a small sack in the upper right abdomen, which is located below the liver. The gallbladder looks like a sideways pair. The main job of the gallbladder is to store about 50% of the bile (also known as gall) which is made by the liver. Our bodies need bile to help break up fats. Also, this liquid helps to absorb some vitamins from foods. When you are eating fatty foods, then the bile is released from the gallbladder and liver into the intestines. The food that we consume is mostly digested in the intestines.
After you have eaten a large meal, then is the time when the gallbladder attack happens. This is happening because the body is making more bile when you are eating fatty foods. Usually, most people have a gallbladder attack in the evening. If you had one gallbladder attack, then you have a reason to have another gallbladder attack. You should know that the pain which is caused by the gallbladder attack is different from other kinds of stomach pain. You can feel the next symptoms when you have a gallbladder attack:
- An abdominal tenderness
- Sharp and sudden pain which lasts for minutes to hours
- A pain that does not worsen or change when you move
- A cramping or dull pain worsens quickly in the upper right part of your abdomen
- An intense pain makes it difficult to sit still
- Sharp pain in the middle of your abdomen, which is just below the breastbone
The pain that is caused by the gallbladder attack can spread from the abdomen to the right shoulder and the back between your shoulder blades.
Also, you can have other symptoms of a gallbladder attack, such as
- Clay-colored or light bowel movements
- A nausea
- Tea–colored or dark urine
- A vomiting
- Eye and skin yellowing
- A fever
The gallbladder attack can lead to other complications, which can cause many other symptoms. A gallbladder attack can trigger liver problems. This is happening because there is a blockage in the duct which can back up bile in the liver. This can lead to jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
In some cases, the gallstones can block the way to the pancreas. Also, the pancreas can make digestive juices which can help to break down the food. The blockage can lead to a complication known as gallstone pancreatitis. And these symptoms are similar to gallbladder attacks. Also, you can have pain in your upper left abdomen.
You should talk with your doctor if you have a gallbladder attack, so in this way, you can prevent having another gallbladder attack. Your doctor may recommend you to have gallbladder removal surgery. You can have healthy and normal digestion even if you do not have a gallbladder. Even if you eat a healthy and balanced diet and you get a lot of exercises, you can have gallstones. Some of the most common causes for gallbladder attack include:
- Having Mexican or Native American heritage (it is noticed that some ethnicities and races are more prone to gallstones)
- Genetics (it is noticed that gallstones are running in the families)
- Being over 40 years (as we are getting older, cholesterol increases and this can lead to gallstones and gallbladder attack)
- Being female (it is known that estrogen boosts cholesterol in bile, so this can increase your risk of getting a gallbladder attack)
There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting a gallbladder attack, such as
- Crohn’s disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
You should talk with your doctor if you have a family history of gallstones or if you have one or more risk factors for getting a gallbladder attack.