Every year in the United States, about 300,000 people have their gallbladders removed in a cholecystectomy procedure. Even though gallbladder problems are common, many people are reluctant to remove their gallbladders or simply don’t know when the time is right.
A top-rated surgical practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, Desert West Surgery uses both minimally invasive and open techniques for gallbladder removal surgery, helping patients relieve painful symptoms and improve their quality of life. In this post, you’ll learn about symptoms that could mean it’s time to remove your gallbladder.
Severe, persistent pain in your belly
Typically, your gallbladder squeezes to release digestive juices that help break up foods — primarily fats. If a stone blocks your gallbladder, this squeezing movement can be very painful, usually causing pain in your upper right belly or the center near your belly button.
Often, this pain begins as a mild ache or cramp and grows in intensity. It may be constant or, frequently, sporadic and recurrent, and sometimes, it radiates into your back.
Bloating or indigestion
When the gallbladder is blocked, digestion slows down, leading to bloating and indigestion following meals or snacks. While occasional bloating or indigestion usually is nothing to worry about, if you routinely feel bloated or you find yourself excessively burping after meals, it’s a good idea to have those symptoms checked out by our team.
Pain in your right shoulder or upper back
Belly pain is a common sign of gallbladder problems, but some people have pain in their right shoulder or between shoulder blades. This type of pain is called referred pain, and it happens when the inflamed gallbladder irritates nerves that travel from the gallbladder up to your shoulder area. Your gallbladder could be to blame if you have chronic or recurrent pain in these areas with no known cause (like excess physical strain).
Many people with gallbladder problems develop diarrhea, which happens when their gallbladder can no longer break down fats adequately. That means fats can’t be absorbed by your body and must be excreted in the stool instead. Stools can be loose and runny, or they may appear greasy.
Fever and chills
Fever and chills can be a sign of a gallbladder infection (cholecystitis), especially if you already know you have a problem with your gallbladder. A gallbladder infection is severe with potentially life-threatening complications, including gallbladder rupture or necrosis (tissue death). If you have gallbladder problems and develop a fever, or if you have a fever and any other symptoms on this list, it’s essential to seek medical help right away.
Jaundice happens when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in your blood. Bilirubin is produced by your liver and contained in bile.
The most visible signs of jaundice are yellowish skin and a yellow tint to the whites of your eyes. Commonly associated with liver problems, jaundice can also occur with gallbladder disease when a blocked gallbladder causes bilirubin (and bile) to build up. If you develop jaundice, seek medical help right away.
Gallstones will not go away on their own. Although there are procedures that remove only the gallstones and leave the gallbladder intact, there’s a good chance new stones will form. Gallbladder surgery is the best way to relieve your symptoms and prevent them from recurring.
If you’re having any of these symptoms, don’t put off having them evaluated. Call Desert West Surgery and schedule a visit with the team at the Las Vegas location nearest you.