The gallbladder is a part of our body that we don’t give a lot of thought to until something goes wrong which is usually in the form of a gallbladder attack.
While it’s under-the-radar in terms of parts of your body that you give regular attention to, it’s an important one. It’s connected to your liver by ducts, and it’s used as a storage center for bile that’s released after you eat to help you digest food.
A gallbladder attack can be frightening, and it occurs when there’s some sort imbalance, or your gallbladder isn’t healthy. When this happens, gallstones can form, which then block your essential bile ducts. This causes an excess of bile to gather in your gallbladder, leading to inflammation and even possibly an infection.
The signs of gallbladder attack can start quickly and can last for minutes to hours, and you will likely need to go to the hospital if you think this is something you’re experiencing.
The following are some red flags of a gallbladder attack and things to know.
Your gallbladder is connected to your liver, and one of the most obvious symptoms you’re experiencing a gallbladder attack is pain in your abdomen. The pain is on the upper ride side of your stomach, just under the ribs and it may feel like it spreads to the center of your stomach or even the upper part of your back.
This pain may last for a few minutes, or it can linger for hours.
Women Are At a Higher Risk
Women are at a higher risk of developing gallbladder problems and experiencing the symptoms of a gallbladder attack than men. This is because of female hormones. When you produce estrogen it raises the levels of cholesterol present in bile, then another hormone, progesterone, slows how quickly your gallbladder empties itself.
As women get older, the risk goes down and is similar to men’s risk because of the decline in estrogen.
People who take estrogen therapy or use oral birth control may be at a higher risk.
The Symptoms May Not Be Apparent
While some people who are experiencing a gallbladder attack may feel pain, others may have no symptoms at all. You might have gallstones and not even know it until you have a CT scan or ultrasound for another reason.
The symptoms of a gallbladder attack usually only occur when the stones are either going through a bile duct or blocking it.
What If You Think You’re Having a Gallbladder Attack?
Finally, what should you do if you think you are having a gallbladder attack?
You may need to call your physician for advice, or if that’s not possible, go to the ER. If it’s suspected, you will probably have blood tests and an ultrasound. Other possible diagnostic tests may be done as well such as an MRI of your bile ducks or an endoscopic ultrasound.
If gallstones are discovered, you may only receive treatment if you are experiencing symptoms or signs of a gallbladder attack.