Gallbladder attacks are downright scary! Often mistaken for a heart attack, when the gallbladder is unhealthy, this small digestive organ is unable to properly aid the digestive process (by storing liver bile and excreting it into the small intestine to for food digestion). As a result, gallstones can form and block bile ducts, bile can back up in the gallbladder and cause painful inflammation, or the gallbladder can become infected with a condition known as Cholecystitis.
A gallbladder attack can come on suddenly and last anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours, requiring hospitalization. That’s why staying calm and recognizing the signs can be important to your health and ability to sustain an attack.
The gallbladder is a little sac, or storage compartment, for bile, which is produced by the liver. The gallbladder emits bile into the small intestines via a duct referred to as the cystic duct. The entire process is meant to break down foods (namely fatty foods). You wouldn’t normally pay too much attention to your gallbladder, unless bile flow slows or becomes blocked, which can be very painful.
One of the most common and evident symptoms of gallstones is pain that begins in the upper right portion of the stomach, under the ribs. This belly pain will radiate outwards, moving gradually to the center of the belly or upper back. Gallstone attacks accompanied by pain of this nature usually last 15 minutes, but many patients report continuing or lingering pain can go on for hours and even rouse you from sleep.