About the Gallbladder
The gallbladder is a small sac like structure attached to the under surface of the liver, located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. The purpose of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate bile. Bile is a green liquid made by the liver composed of water, cholesterol, salts and lecithin. Bile assists in the breakdown and absorption of fats from food.
When you eat, especially when you eat fatty foods, the gallbladder is stimulated to contract and empty its contents into the intestine. When bile mixes with food, it emulsifies fats and certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K aiding in absorption. If the gallbladder has concentrated the bile too much, stones can form. This is a condition called cholelithiasis.
Most gallstones are asymptomatic, but about ten percent of people will develop symptoms. In the presence of stones, when the gallbladder contracts one of those stones may block the opening of the gallbladder. When this happens, the pressure builds up causing distention and pain. Gallstones can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters in size. Most stones are composed of cholesterol but may also be calcified bilirubin.
The second most common form of gallbladder disease occurs in the absence of stones. In this condition the most common cause is the deposition of small crystals of cholesterol within the muscular wall of the gallbladder leading to swelling, inflammation and ultimately dysfunction and pain.
Symptoms of Gallbladder disease range from mild discomfort and upset stomach to severe pain with uncontrollable nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include:
- Regurgitation of bitter fluid after eating
- Light or chalky colored stools
If you are experiencing severe pain and if your symptoms are accompanied with fever, seek medical attention immediately.