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Signs of Gallbladder Attack

Gallbladder attack is caused by obstruction in bile duct due to gallstones. Here is some useful information on the signs of gallbladder attack.
Gallbladder stones are hard deposits that are developed in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Gallbladder is a small pear-shaped sac present in the right-upper abdomen, just below the liver. It is a reservoir for bile produced by the liver. Bile contains bile salts, bilirubin pigments and cholesterol. When cholesterol or bile salts harden, they form a stone-like material known as gallstones. Due to the formation of gallstones, there is obstruction in the bile duct leading to a serious infection in the bile duct, pancreas, or liver. The obstructed bile duct can cause gallbladder attack.

Some of the risk factors for gallstone are age, gender, rapid weight loss, obesity, hormone therapy, pregnancy, birth control pills, Crohn's disease and increased levels of triglycerides. People with diabetes and people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs are at a higher risk of developing gallstones. Gallbladder attacks are more common in people with a history of bowel trouble or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms

When gallstones create a blockage in the bile duct, it increases the pressure in the gallbladder. The gallstone symptoms occur suddenly leading to a condition known as gallbladder attack. A gallbladder attack generally occurs following fatty meals and at night. This condition can cause steady pain in the right-upper abdomen; the pain increases rapidly and may last for 30 minutes to more than 5 hours. The patient may also complain of pain in the back, between the shoulder blades and under the right shoulder. Some other signs are as follows:
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Belching and indigestion
  • Restlessness
  • Heartburn
There is sudden, moderate to intense pain in the upper-middle or upper-right abdomen. Pain starts about two hours after the meals and may last for several hours. Pain may shift to the back or right shoulder blade. When the pain subsides, there may be mild aching or soreness in the upper abdomen.

There are symptoms of chronic indigestion such as bloating, gas, belching, nausea and abdominal pain. A person may experience recurring intolerance of fatty foods. These symptoms may worsen after having high-fat foods.

Due to blockage in the gallbladder, the symptoms of jaundice are seen. There is yellowing of skin and whites of eyes and dark urine. There are also the symptoms of cholecystitis (inflammation of gallbladder) and cholangitis (infection of bile duct).

At first, it is felt like gas pains in the abdomen and chest area. In the beginning, pain is tolerable. Afterwards, pain becomes severe and increases rapidly. Pain worsens with deep inhalation.

Gallbladder attack can be prevented by certain dietary changes. You should have a fresh, whole food diet. You need to avoid high-fat foods and processed foods. Your diet should contain abundant amounts of fresh vegetables, leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seeds. Certain herbal remedies such as barberry bark, cramp bark, wild yam root, fennel seed, ginger root, catnip herb and peppermint leaf are helpful in the prevention of gallbladder attack.
By Reshma Jirage
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