Gallbladder attacks

The gallbladder is an important organ of the human body. It assists in fat digestion with the help of bile produced by the liver. Bile helps in emulsifying fat in digested food. Although the gallbladder can be removed with no major consequences for a human being, it is still a frightening and worrying experience when you experience a gallbladder attack.

Symptoms and treatment

A person who is experiencing a gallbladder attack may feel the following symptoms.

  • moderate to intense pain or tenderness on the rib cage
  • strong abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • belching or burping
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • headache
  • jaundice
  • bloating

Gallstones are mainly responsible for gallbladder attacks. These are small stones that form when substances in the bile duct are not balanced. They often go undetected because they do not cause any symptoms. However, gallstones can pop out of the ducts or channels and can even travel to other parts of the body causing irritation and inflammation of the gallbladder resulting to the above symptoms.

Although gallstones can be broken down into small pieces, the procedure is only effective in one out of ten patients (NHS). Those who experience intense gallbladder discomfort and pain are advised surgery. The most common of these procedures is laparoscopic cholecystectomy involving insertion of a small camera on small incisions made on the abdomen to remove the organ.

Another procedure is open cholecystectomy where a large incision on the abdomen is made. The stones and gallbladder are then removed through this method. However, recovery with this type of procedure is longer (up to a 2 weeks or a month).

Complications and side effects

Both surgeries are low risk and pose no major complications for the patient. The only possible side effect is an infection on the area of the incision. Patients who had their gallbladder surgically removed complained of bloating and diarrhoea. Hence, paying close attention to diets after gallbladder surgery is important. Note, however, the gallbladder is not a vital organ. It is possible to lead a perfectly normal life even if it is removed.

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