One of the most common gallbladder problems is gallstones, which sometimes cause no problem at all until a stone lodges in a duct causing sudden pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen. The pain intensifies rapidly, according to Mayo Clinic.
A gallbladder attack may cause pain under the breastbone, between the shoulders or in the right shoulder. The attack usually lasts a few minutes to a few hours. Signs of a serious gallbladder attack include yellowing of the skin or eyes, pain so severe it is not possible to find a comfortable position, or a high fever accompanied by chills, reports Mayo Clinic.
The pain of a gallstone attack is sometimes severe enough to wake the person from a sound sleep, indicates WebMD. It can cause nausea and vomiting, with the vomiting bringing some relief of the pressure and pain of the attack. Pain accompanied with nausea, vomiting and fever are signs of gallbladder inflammation.
Other problems cause symptoms similar to a gallbladder attack, warns WebMD. Food poisoning, stomach flu, heartburn or heart attacks all cause similar symptoms. If others in the house are experiencing similar symptoms or the nausea comes and goes, food poisoning or the stomach flu are the most likely cause of the problem.
Gallstones can also block the duct that leads from the pancreas and cause the gland to become inflamed. This also leads to abdominal pain that radiates to the back and becomes worse after a meal. A disorder known as porcelain gallbladder causes the wall of the gallbladder to calcify, notes the American Cancer Society. It usually follows gallbladder inflammation and is often associated with gallbladder cancer. The signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer are very much like those of more benign gallbladder diseases. Since the gallbladder is located deep within the body, it is difficult to detect gallbladder cancer early.