Gallbladder – Function, Pain Location, Relief, Pictures

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped, pouch-like large organ located in the abdomen, below the liver.

Function of the gallbladder

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It is primarily responsible for storing bile juice that is released by the liver. Bile aids the digestion of fat. After the food has been digested in the intestines and stomach, the gallbladder passes bile via the bile duct which is a passage that connects the gallbladder and liver to the small intestine.

The presence of gallbladder diseases can affect the storage and release of bile which in turn affects the digestion of fats. Gallbladder disorders can result in gallbladder pain in addition to a variety of other symptoms. The signs and symptoms accompanying gallbladder pain mimic those elicited by varied digestive system conditions. Hence, gallbladder pain is often misdiagnosed leading to delayed treatment.

Most patients who experience gallbladder pain are usually unaware of the presence of underlying gallbladder conditions. Most of the associated symptoms are also observed during instances of high fat consumption and overeating, and in diabetic patients and older women. The pain is quite intense and often affects day-to-day functioning.

Patients can however survive without the gallbladder. Hence, most problems of the gallbladder can be easily resolved by the surgical removal of the organ.

Symptoms accompanying gallbladder pain (location)

  • A case of acute gallbladder pain often occurs at night or after the intake of a fatty meal. The affected person may experience severe and constant pain in the upper part of the abdomen. Patients may also experience shoulder pain (particularly in the right shoulder) as well as in area between the shoulder blades.

Some of the other signs and symptoms that accompany gallbladder pain are listed below:

  • Belching and/or burping
  • Headache, which is focused in the area just above or around the eyes. It is more prevalent at night.
  • Fever along with chills
  • Nausea
  • Intense rib cage pain on the right side
  • Gas
  • Vomiting
  • The gallbladder pain may pose difficulties in sitting upright or walking
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme pain in the upper abdomen
  • Severe tenderness of the gallbladder
  • Patients may experience the regurgitation of bitter fluid in the mouth post meals
  • Gallbladder inflammation or stones can result in chest pain that affects the right side
  • A few symptoms of jaundice such as yellowing of the whites of the eyes and/or the skin may also be observed. This generally tends to occur when there is obstruction of the bile duct by gallstones, which in turn causes accumulation of bile juice in the liver. Ultimately, such excess bile begins to seep out into the bloodstream.

Causes of gallbladder pain

Gallbladder pain and other problems of the organ are usually caused when there is blockage in the free flow of bile juice. In most cases, this is caused due to gallstones.

  • Gallstones are crystallized deposits that develop in the gallbladder. They are mostly made up of calcium, bilirubin, or cholesterol and often result in increased amounts of discomfort and pain, particularly when they gain entry into the ducts. The gallstones may be quite tiny like a grain of sand, or they may as large as a golf ball.

Gallbladder pain may also be caused in the following instances:

  • Stones which make their way into the bile duct and then pass through to the duodenum
  • The presence of hypothyroidism. It affects the metabolism of the body, thereby disrupting the digestive processes as well.
  • A disease referred to as cholecystitis which is identified by infection and inflammation of the gallbladder.
  • Presence of some types of food allergies that trigger the release of histamine, thereby causing the accumulation of excess fluids in the bile ducts.
  • Gallbladder cancer,gallbladder polyps, gallbladder sludge, porcelain gallbladder, choledocholithiasis, and acalculous cholecystopathy are some of the other conditions of the gallbladder that may lead to onset of gallbladder pain.

Some of the risk factors that can increase the vulnerability to developing gallbladder pain are listed below:

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  • An increased age of over 55 or 60 years
  • Being overweight, or obesity
  • Presence of diabetes
  • A family history of gallbladder disorders
  • Intake of certain medicines
  • Women are more susceptible than men
  • Native Americans and Hispanics are at greater risk
  • Consumption of beans, milk, eggs, pork, certain nuts, onions, grapefruit, corn, coffee, alcohol, and oranges can also trigger or raise the risk to gallbladder pain.

Treatment of gallbladder pain

Gallbladder pain can last for about 15 minutes to several hours. Patients may follow the steps given below to alleviate the symptoms of gallbladder pain:

  • Lie down on the bed and turn towards the left side. Now, place a pillow against the left side and apply pressure so as to ease the gallbladder pain.
  • Patients suffering from nausea can try vomiting. However, it should not be forced.
  • Rest your back on a chair with a high back and raise your arms. Then lean back and remain in the position till the pain reduces.
  • Gallbladder pain may be caused due to occurrence of excess waste in the body. Hence, try to have a bowel movement.
  • The pain can be alleviated via intake of tea with flaxseeds or cucumber/cucumber juice.
  • Hot compresses can also be used to get relief from mild pain.

Gallbladder flush:There are different natural ways to flush the gallbladder, thereby getting rid of gallstones and the related gallbladder pain. Milk thistle, turmeric, and a variety of herbs can help detoxify the body. Intake of fruit juices such as apple, pear, and lemon juice, as well as apple cider vinegar and olive oil can aid the gallbladder cleansing process.

In case the above listed home remedies do not relieve gallbladder pain, then patients must consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

  • The doctor may prescribe painkillers to reduce severe or recurrent pain
  • Gallstones are treated with drugs containing bile acids. They help dissolve the stones.
  • Antibiotics are given to treat gallbladder infections
  • Changes in diet to exclude refined sugar, saturated fat, etc. and inclusion of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, etc. is recommended.
  • Patients also need to maintain a healthy weight and engage in regular exercise.
  • The final treatment option for gallbladder pain is surgical removal of the gallbladder. It does not cause any health complications. Patients may however experience diarrhea for some days after surgery.

Gallbladder Location – Pictures




Gallbladder surgery pictures

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