What Can Be Done About Gallbladder Attacks?
Gallbladder attacks are painful episodes that usually occur in the upper abdomen, but can also radiate to parts of the shoulders and back. The pain may last for a few minutes or considerably longer, and may range in severity from mild to extreme. Gallbladder attacks take place when your gallbladder becomes inflamed for irritated for reasons that will be detailed below.
The medical name for a gallbladder attack is cholecystitis. It may also be called biliary colic or biliary disease.
Understanding why a gallbladder attack takes place requires some basic knowledge of the role the gallbladder plays in the digestive process.
The gallbladder has been described as a small, sac-like reservoir near the liver. It is roughly the same shape as the human thumb. It stores bile, a substance produced by your liver, which helps break down the food you eat. This makes the food easier for the intestines to digest. Bile plays an extremely important role in metabolizing cholesterol and other fats contained in your food. When too cholesterol accumulates in the gallbladder (often after a fatty, cholesterol-heavy meal), it sometimes becomes irritated and inflamed. This is what causes the pain of a gallbladder attack. Depending on how much cholesterol has built up, it can be hours before the gallbladder returns to normal Someone who eats a lot of fried foods is much more likely to have gallbladder attacks than someone who doesn’t.
When a lot of cholesterol accumulates and remains in the gallbladder for a while, it can begin to harden and crystallize. Small formations may appear that look like tiny pebbles or stones. These, of course, are gallstones, which may also cause a great deal of pain. Gallstones vary in size. They might be tiny – almost microscopic. But they can also be as large as a golf ball.
As mentioned previously, you may feel pain from a gallbladder attack in several places. The most common area is the abdomen just below the ribcage (where the gallbladder is actually located). But it can also extend to the right shoulder or the upper back between the shoulder blades.
Pain from a gallbladder attack can occur due to several other reasons too, These include a gallbladder infection or an obstruction of some kind in the biliary tract (the path by which bile is secreted by the liver then transported to the small intestine).
Pain is the most recognizable symptom of a gallbladder attack. But there are other gallbladder attack symptoms, including:
* chills and a fever are common
* bowel irregularities: either constipation or diarrhea
* dizziness is common
* there may be a headache centered above the right eye
* light or slate colored stools
* nausea and vomiting
* there could be some stomach bloating and gas
Treatment for a gallbladder attack depends mainly on the severity of the pain and the nature of the cause. People who have sudden, intense gallbladder attacks may require immediate hospitalization. But hospitalization may also be appropriate in cases where attacks have become recurring or chronic.
Treatment may include intravenous electrolytes and fluids. Additionally the patient won’t be allowed to eat or drink anything for a while.
In some cases, antibiotics are appropriate. Your doctor may also recommend inserting a tube through the nose and into the stomach to reduce fluid build up in the intestines.
Gallbladder removal surgery is a treatment option if attacks become frequent or chronic. Since you don’t need your gallbladder to live, your doctor may recommend removing it to prevent future problems.
Sometimes, preventing a gallbladder attack is impossible. This can be true for individuals with a family history of gallbladder problems. Everyone else, however, can certainly reduce their risk of gallbladder attacks by maintaining a low-fat, low cholesterol diet. Vigorous exercise can also be beneficial because it helps flush cholesterol and fats out of your digestive system and bloodstream.
(Editor’s note; The words “gallbladder attack” are sometimes spelled gall bladder attack by many individuals. There are also some typical mispellings, including galbladder attack, gallbladeer attack, and even gullblader attack.)
Click on gallbladder attack and gallbladder removal surgery information to learn more about gallbladder health. Neal Kennedy is a former TV and radio talk show host with a special interest in health and fitness.