Gallbladder Pain – Are You Experiencing A Gallbladder Attack?
If you’ve ever had to wonder, “am I having a gallbladder attack?” then you’ve likely experienced serious gallbladder pain that felt different from any digestive discomfort you’ve known. Gallbladder attacks can be very concerning as the pain often comes on by surprise, and can radiate to seemingly unrelated areas, like the chest and back.
What Is This Organ And Why Is It Causing You Grief?
The gallbladder is located just under the liver, in the upper, right abdomen. This small, pear-shaped organ holds and regulates digestive bile created by the liver. Without carefully measured bile being released into your intestines after meals, your body cannot properly breakdown and absorb the fats that you eat. When the gallbladder is inflamed, irritated, filled with gallstones or backed up with excess bile and sludge, it will spasm with pain, typically after meals.
Here are a few of the gallstone symptoms that might indicate you are having a gallbladder attack.
We normally don’t think twice about our gallbladder or its function until we experience gallbladder pain. Discomfort in the upper right area of the belly, just under the ribs, can radiate outwards to the mid abdomen and mid/upper back. A Gallbladder attack will usually bring on this type of pain for 15-30 minutes but it may last longer, or develop at night and keep you awake.
It is no surprise that the gallbladder affects digestion and can lead to symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. It is a key player in the digestive process, also facilitating absorption of fat-absorbable nutrients like vitamins E, D, K, and A. Improper digestion of fats leads to digestive dysfunction and bowel disturbances.
Small stones can shift into the bile ducts at any time as well. Biliary pain or colic is described as a steady gnawing pain in the upper right abdomen. Just like heartburn, this is often felt in the back and behind the breast bone.
Gall bladder pain can lead to nausea and vomiting when severe. A loss of appetite, and extreme pain along with nausea can last 1- several hours following a meal. Particularly, meals which are fried or high in fat can trigger these symptoms. If a gallstone completely clocks a bile duct, digestion can become consistently painful which leads to the sufferer avoiding meals altogether.
Jaundice/Yellow Skin And Eyes
The bile created by our livers contains bilirubin, cholesterol and bile salts. This is typically carried out of the body as waste in the urine and feces. If a duct is blocked, aside from extreme pain, the backed-up bilirubin in the system can make the skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow. Likewise, this same bile pigment circulating in the system instead of exiting through the bowls, can turn the urine a dark, brownish shade. In the case of gallbladder disease and gallstones, dark urine can indicate a duct blockage by a gallstone.
It is not uncommon for gallbladder pain to be mistaken for a heart attack. Sudden, aching or sharp pain which radiates to the chest, right shoulder and back can be alarming and severe. A gallbladder attack often wakes people in the night and understandably, prompts a trip to the ER. for a heart attack. This occurs if a blockage or infection afflicts the gallbladder or bile duct the acid is trapped in the stomach and gets pushed up into the chest, resulting in heart attack-like pain. Even though chest pain can indicate a heart attack, following a big or rich meal, your chest pain may be more indicative of a gallbladder attack.
Heartburn is a common symptom of gallbladder issues if it occurs after eating, while lying down (particularly after eating), or bending over to put pressure on the abdomen and chest. Heartburn due to gallbladder typically radiates in a burning sensation in your chest that moves upward to the upper abdomen and neck.