It may be one of the smallest organs in the body, but when your gallbladder is not functioning as it should, you’ll definitely know it. The pain, discomfort, and resulting frustration can be hard to live with, and possibly even life-threatening if not addressed.
The good news is, the right medical advice and care can help you get lasting relief from nagging gallbladder symptoms. At Midtown Surgical & Skin Institute, we’ve assisted hundreds of Tulsa area patients with compassionate, trusted care for their gallbladder. We’ll help you receive a proper diagnosis for your gallbladder problem and a personalized treatment approach that works for you.
Here’s what you need to know about this small, but important organ, and its treatment.
Just 4 inches in size and pear-shaped, your gallbladder is located just beneath the liver, in your abdomen’s upper right side. Other nearby organs include the pancreas, stomach, colon and small intestine.
It’s probably no surprise to find out that your gallbladder is involved in your gastrointestinal process. Specifically, the gallbladder is a storage place for the bile that is produced by the liver.
When you eat, your body releases a hormone that tells the gallbladder to contract and release the bile, which helps you break down and digest the fats you consume. It also helps your body to absorb nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
The number one sign you’re having a gallbladder problem is pain. Gallbladder-related pain is usually located in the mid to upper-right part of the abdomen. It may be mild or intermittent, or it can be frequent, or severe. It can radiate to other parts of your body, such as the back and chest. In fact, it can be so excruciating that it can mimic a heart attack.
You’ll also want to be aware of these additional symptoms that can signal you have gallbladder issues:
If you’re having any of the symptoms listed above, it’s smart to get medical advice as soon as you can. A doctor experienced in gallbladder issues can perform the appropriate tests to diagnose you properly so that you can receive the best treatment to relieve your pain and other symptoms.
The most common reason for gallbladder problems is the formation of gallstones. The digestive bile that your body produces is made up of a number of substances, including water, salt, and cholesterol. And just as cholesterol can build up in other parts of the body, it can build up in your gallbladder and bile ducts. There, the cholesterol can crystallize into gallstones—which can be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a golf ball.
As much as 15% of people have gallstones, but they won’t always know it, because these stones don’t necessarily cause pain for everyone. In fact, many gallstones never cause any problems at all, meaning they don’t need to be treated.
Sometimes, though, gallstones can travel into the common bile duct which leads from the gallbladder to the stomach—and they can get stuck. When they’re trapped in the duct, gallstones block the flow of your bile, causing the gallbladder to spasm. This is commonly referred to as a gallbladder attack—and it can be very painful.
Gallstones may do more than cause pain. They also can lead to life-threatening conditions requiring hospitalization such as:
For this reason, finding out if the cause of your upper right abdomen pain is gallstones is essential to protecting your health. With the right doctor, you can receive a caring, thorough diagnosis and treatment plan that ends the pain and helps you get back to living life on your terms.
Of course, gallstones aren’t the only reason for gallbladder pain and problems. Gallbladder disease can result from many other causes, such as:
Depending on your medical diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to come up with an individualized treatment plan that fits your specific situation.
Most people who are having pain and other symptoms as a result of gallstones will need surgery. Because gallstones don’t dissolve on their own, they tend to grow larger and more problematic over time. And they can even lead to a need for emergency gallbladder removal.
Painful gallstones and other symptoms can be troubling, but there are solutions that will help you feel better and get back to enjoying your life. Whether you need care for known gallbladder problems or desire a medical diagnosis for unexplained symptoms, Midtown Surgical is here to help. We listen to you, perform thorough tests, and provide medical advice so you can understand your choices and find lasting relief for your gallbladder issues.
Schedule a consultation with us today—and start on the road to feeling better.