What Do You Do If You Have a Gallbladder Attack?


Quick Answer

A patient suffering from a gallbladder attack should contact a doctor immediately, depending on the severity of the attack. Most attacks are caused by gallstones blocking bile ducts, says WebMD.

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What Do You Do If You Have a Gallbladder Attack?
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Full Answer

The gallbladder is a small sac found under the liver that stores bile and helps digest fat, according to WebMD. Bile moves from the gallbladder to the small intestine through tubes. The gallbladder also holds gallstones, masses of hard cholesterol and other substances. They can range in size from a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball. They do not usually cause problems, but they can block ducts and require treatment. While most patients with gallstones do not have symptoms, some experience pain in the pit of the stomach. The pain may also spread to right upper back or shoulder blade and range from mild to severe in intensity. When a gallstone blocks a duct, symptoms may include fevers, chills or changes in skin color to yellow.

Treatment ranges from surgery to the use of medication. Because gallstones frequently recur, a doctor may recommend the removal of the gallbladder. While removal does not affect a body's ability to digest food, it can temporarily cause diarrhea, states Mayo Clinic. Medications can be taken to help dissolve the gallstones. This treatment is uncommon, and it may take months or years of use before the gallstones are dissolved. These medications may not work in certain patients.

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