More than just heartburn pain, gallbladder pain can hit you like a sharp, throbbing pain of the abdomen or it can even be mistaken for a heart attack. Gallbladder pain is often hard to pinpoint since it involves a lot of referred pain in different areas, but the board-certified physicians at Medco ER are here to help you unravel the mysteries of the gallbladder.
Your Gallbladder at a Glance
The gallbladder is a small organ on the upper right side of the abdomen. It stores bile that is continually produced by the liver. When you eat, a hormone activates the release of the stored bile to aid in digestion and breaking down fats. Sometimes, the substances in the gallbladder can collect and form gallstones. These gallstones can be tiny or they can get very large. Often, they pose no problems but, occasionally, they block the bile duct and cause gallbladder spasms and pain.
“Gallstones are often the cause of serious abdominal pain, however, they aren’t the only cause,” said Medco ER’s Medical Director, Dr. Nasir Khan. “Colicky gallbladders or functional gallbladders—gallbladders that work and appear normal on scans but occasionally act up—can also cause sporadic bouts of pain. The problem can even be a growth, tumor or inflammation of the gallbladder. It takes some careful diagnosing and tests like a CT scan or ultrasound to really get to the bottom of it.”
Depending on the type of gallbladder condition you may be experiencing, the following symptoms could be consistent or could come and go:1
- Sharp, piercing pain in the abdomen or upper right quadrant, right under the rib cage
- Pain that radiates to the side, back or even right shoulder
- Rhythmic pain or constant pressure
- Pain after eating, especially fatty foods
- Stools that appear grayish or light in color
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark urine
- Yellow skin or whites of the eyes
- Chest pain
“Other conditions can mimic gallbladder disease,” said Dr. Khan, “Appendicitis, irritable bowel disease, celiac disease, kidney stones, ulcers or other conditions can be causing your pain. That’s why you need a great diagnostic team, such as ours at Medco ER.”
Gallbladder pain can be related to diets high in saturated fats and refined, processed foods. Try switching to a Mediterranean diet or a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Whole grains, low-fat dairy and high fiber foods are all great choices. A good diet and regular exercise may reduce your risk of developing gallstones.2
Sugar, salt, red meat, fried foods, saturated fats are all things to avoid, as well as a sedentary lifestyle.
Treatment of Gallbladder Pain
Depending on the cause of your gallbladder pain, the treatment could vary from dietary and lifestyle changes to a cholecystectomy, or surgical removal of the gallbladder. Gallstones are not usually treated individually since they will likely just continue to grow back.2
When Should I Come to the ER?
Severe pain should not be ignored. It could indicate a serious condition.
“When the pain becomes serious and it is interfering with your life to the point where you can’t function, don’t hesitate to come to the ER,” said Dr. Khan. “We have the imaging equipment and board-certified physicians who will work hard to diagnose your condition.”
Get Help Fast at Medco ER
When abdominal pain sidelines you from life, don’t delay. Medco ER is open 24/7 every day of the year. We can diagnose and treat gallbladder conditions and get you started on the road to healing.
Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive, Plano, TX 75023 (on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road)
Call us @ 469-747-0370