A gallbladder attack can last from one hour to five hours or even up to eight hours, and then it goes away on its own. The attack indicates that the gallbladder is not functioning normally and that something is wrong.
The main symptom of a gallbladder attack is pain that occurs in the middle of the abdomen between the belly button and the breastbone under the right ribs. The pain can be in the form of a mild or severe discomfort and you may feel a sharp pain that spreads to the sides or to the shoulder blade. It is also called biliary colic.
The pain can be triggered by fatty or large meals and it takes place a few hours after eating. Steady pain after meals may be a symptom of gallbladder stones. It may also wake you up at night. An attack can recur after a week or after many years, each time with different severity. In some cases gallbladder attacks are infrequent. For some, the pain can be relieved by walking.
To some, the pain can be relieved by walking
Other Symptoms of A Gallbladder Attack
The pain alone should not be the only symptom you should rely on to know if it is a gallbladder attack, because you may experience similar pains with problems such as gastric ulcers, heart pains, kidney stones and pneumonia.
Other symptoms you should look out for include vomiting, nausea, chills or fever, diarrhea, stools or urine with unusual color, and jaundice.
This is the other most noticeable symptom of gall bladder problem other than the pain. It involves yellowing of the skin and in some cases yellowing of the whites of the eyes. It signifies a blockage in the gall bladder by gallstones so that instead of draining to the intestines, bile goes back to the liver or leaks into the bloodstream.
The stools may be lightly colored or urine may be dark, which is a sign of a blockage in the bile duct.
Chills or fever are a sign of infection.
What Causes Gallbladder Attacks?
Gallbladder attacks occur when the gallbladder is inflamed due to tumors, gallstones, the gallbladder having excessive bile, perforated gallbladder, gallbladder polyps or other problems in the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a sac-shaped organ under the liver on the right side of the abdomen, just below the ribcage. The organ is connected to the liver and to the intestines using bile ducts which carry the bile produced by the liver.
When the bile is produced by the liver, it contains bile salts, water, cholesterol, fats and waste products such as bilirubin. Some of it goes to the intestines via the common bile duct while the rest goes to the gallbladder via the cystic duct.
Upon getting to the gallbladder, some of the contents are removed to obtain concentrated bile. This bile is then released into the intestines for the digestion of fats. It breaks down the fat contained in food into small droplets that can be absorbed to the body. The bile also enables the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food in the gut.