What causes gallbladder attacks?


Quick Answer

Gallbladder pain is caused by gallstones, sludge or inflammation, according to MedicineNet. Normally, when the gallbladder is compressed, bile flows through the ducts and into the gastrointestinal tract, but if gallstones or sludge are present and partially block the bile, the ensuing pressure placed on the tissue causes pain.

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Full Answer

In more severe cases, the blockage causes ischemia to occur, warns MedicineNet. In this case, an obstruction prevents blood cells from reaching the tissue resulting in an inadequate blood supply.

During the digestive process, the gallbladder releases bile that helps digest fat and amino acids in the duodenum, according to MedicineNet. The bile passes through ducts. In billiary colic, when the ducts are intermittently blocked, the patient feels sudden and intense pain in the right abdomen and may also experience nausea and vomiting. In cholecystitis, when the tissue becomes inflamed due to duct blockage, the pain in the upper right abdomen is severe and constant, with long episodes of nausea, vomiting, chills and bloating.

During a severe attack, gallbladder pain is usually treated with morphine, reports MedicineNet; however, for long-term relief, a doctor may recommend removing the gallbladder or the gallbladder stones. As of 2015, the most popular method of removing the gallbladder is laparoscopic surgery which requires only a few incisions in the abdomen.

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