The gallbladder is a four-inch, pear-shaped organ positioned under the liver in the upper-right section of the abdomen. The gallbladder stores a mix of fluids, fat, and cholesterol called bile. Bile helps break down fat from food in your intestine. The gallbladder delivers bile into the small intestine. This allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be more easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

What things can go wrong with your gallbladder?

Gallbladder disease can include infections, stones or blockage of the gallbladder, and inflammation. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in the digestion of fat and is released from the gallbladder into the upper small intestine in response to food (especially fats).

Cholecystitis is the inflammation of the gallbladder. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of gallbladder problems. The most common symptom of a gallbladder problem is pain. Chills or fever can signal that you have an infection. Jaundice (yellow-tinted skin) may be a sign of a block or stone in the common bile duct. If you have an infection, you need treatment before it worsens and becomes dangerous.

What are common symptoms of a gallbladder problem?

The most common symptom of gallbladder disease is intermittent pain called biliary colic. Between 1-3 percent of people with symptomatic gallstones develop inflammation in the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis), which occurs when stones block the duct. Chronic gallbladder disease involves gallstones and mild inflammation. Other symptoms of gallbladder problems include dark urine, lighter stools, rapid heartbeat, blood pressure drop, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.

Treatment options for gallbladder problems

Treatment options depend on the specific gallbladder problem and may include pain medications, shock waves to break apart gallstones, or surgery to remove gallstones or the entire gallbladder. Most of the time gallbladder surgery can be performed laparoscopically (through small incisions).

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