Gallbladder Symptoms: How Can You Tell If Your Gallbladder Is Failing?
The gallbladder is a fairly inconspicuous part of the digestive system and an organ that most people don’t think about until it begins to cause pain and digestive upset. Because common gallbladder symptoms look a lot like indigestion, they may go ignored.
Luckily, there are ways to determine if your gallbladder is failing and how to differentiate gallbladder pain from indigestion, before problems develop into gallbladder disease.
A good place to start is learning about what the gallbladder is and how it helps us every day.
The small, pear shaped organ tucked just below the liver, toward the upper right of the abdomen, stores bile which is secreted by the liver. Bile is a greenish-brown fluid comprised of enzymes, cholesterol and salts that helps to digest fat and assist with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
In healthy individuals, digestion runs smoothly and doesn’t lead to gallbladder symptoms. However, when there is an interruption to the normal gallbladder contraction, or if the bile ducts become blocked, then pain, indigestion, nausea and bloating can result.
Typically, the most common symptom of a failing gallbladder is pain in the mid or upper right section of the abdomen. The discomfort may be mild and intermittent, or severe and persistent. This type of pain also often radiates to the back and in between the shoulder blades, or specifically to the right shoulder.
When the gallbladder is failing due to long-term diseases and disorders, there may be frequent nausea and lingering digestive problems. Sufferers may also experience vomiting and in severe cases of gallbladder infection, fever and chills may accompany other symptoms.
A telltale sign that the gallbladder is not functioning properly is often a change in bowel habits. Chronic gallbladder disease can cause frequent diarrhea. Stools may also turn light or chalky in color, signalling a bile blockage. When a gallstone works its way into the common bile duct and blocks it, the urine may become dark and a person’s skin takes on a yellow tone which is known as jaundice.
When gallbladder symptoms are mild and resolve on their own, most people will not require medical attention and can look to safe, effective remedies and healthy lifestyle changes to get back n track.
However, if chronic symptoms are ignored and become severe, seek out medical help to reduce risk of serious illness.
If you think your gallbladder may be sluggish or failing due to occasional pain, bloating and other digestive disturbances, you can take matters into your own hands and improve your overall health, including gallbladder function.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has recommended following a diet rich in high fibre food such as beans, peas, fruits, whole-grains and vegetables. Reducing the intake of highly processed foods as well as carbohydrate and sugar intake is also beneficial to boost digestive health. Replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones such as fish oil, olive oil and coconut oil are also highly recommended as a means to boost liver health and keep gallbladder problems at bay.