Digestion health

The gallbladder is a small organ that sits underneath the liver, storing bile to help process fats. When the gallbladder gets clogged, however, little pebble-like formations appear made up of cholesterol, bile and other pigments, called gallstones.

They range from size and colour, and can be completely asymptomatic for 60-80% of people. However, when there are symptoms, it’s usually very painful and problematic for the sufferer as the gallstones block the bile duct, causing a buildup of bile and can perforate the gallbladder. 

Here are 10 signs and symptoms associated with gallbladder issues

Feeling bloated

This can be a sign of lots of digestive issues, but don’t dismiss gallbladder dysfunction as a reason for it. See your GP if you’re concerned or experiencing an abnormal amount of bloating, or bloat-related pain.

Biliary colic

This is a sudden pain in the upper right section of the abdomen and is linked with a gallbladder attack. It can be episodic, meaning it comes and goes, so don’t discount it just because it isn’t constant.

Indigestion pain

This can be similar to heartburn, and often gets put down to that. However, a feeling of fullness in the chest as well as abdomen can be from gallstones. 

Back and shoulder pain

When gallstone related, the pain will likely radiate over the right shoulder or the mid back. This is a very telling sign of your gallbladder not functioning properly or a blocked bile duct. 

Stabbing or cramping pain

There are lots of different types of pain that can be involved! It doesn’t have to be a constant achy pain, it may come and go and change intensity. 

Nausea

A persistent queasy feeling is linked with your gallbladder not working well. Vomiting is uncommon but can occur. Going off your food is also part of this symptom picture. 

Abdomen pressure

In severe cases it may feel like a heavy weight is bearing down on your mid-section. 

Urine colouration

Urine should be a light beige colour; if it is bright yellow or dark coloured this may indicate a blockage in the bile duct. 

Jaundice

This occurs during a blockage from a buildup of bilirubin that enters the bloodstream. This causes skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. 

Diarrhoea

Changes in your bowel movements that result in explosive diarrhoea that can be super stinky, or having fatty stools, is another strong sign that something is not functioning right with your gallbladder. 

If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, see your GP for a diagnosis (we strongly discourage self-diagnosis). 

Naturopathically, we can support a diagnosis through dietary management, herbal medicine and nutritional supplementation.

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