Warning Signs You Might Need Your Gallbladder Removed

Symptoms of gallbladder disease can range from minor and unnoticeable to unbearable and debilitating, and if left untreated, can lead to gallbladder rupture, inflammation of the pancreas, or inflammation of the bile ducts. In this article, we review a few of the major warning signs that you might need your gallbladder removed. If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms discussed in this article or have any further questions, schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon specializing in abdominal procedures, including colorectal surgery in Tampa

Related: 9 Types of Gallbladder Diseases and Complications

Abdominal Pain

By far, the most common complaint among individuals suffering from gallstones is abdominal pain, which typically comes on after eating. The pain can be described as anything from sharp and stabbing to dull and cramping. You may assume that you’re experiencing gas pain or acid reflux due to the intermittent nature of these pains; however, it’s important to be wary of any abdominal pain that lasts several hours. 

Gallbladder pain is typically centered in the upper right or direct center of your abdomen, but it may also extend beneath the right shoulder blade and on to the back. It may increase either when you breathe in deeply or after eating a heavy meal, particularly greasy or fatty foods. You should seek immediate attention by a medical professional if you develop abdominal pain so intense that you cannot sit still or find a comfortable position. 

Related: Could My Gallbladder Be Causing Abdominal Pain?

Weight Changes

Obesity can lead to gallstones because it alters the balance of cholesterol and bile acids in the gallbladder and makes it more difficult for the gallbladder to empty as cholesterol-rich bile accumulates and hardens into stones. Losing excess weight, if done gradually, is a surefire way to reduce your risk of gallstones; however, rapid weight loss (three pounds or more per week) can trigger gallstones. Just like obesity, rapid weight loss has the potential to trigger an imbalance in the levels of bile acids, cholesterol, and lecithin. 

Two of the most common groups of people that experience this are bariatric surgery patients because they tend to lose a significant amount of weight in the first three to six months and women both during and immediately after pregnancy. If you wish to lose weight, weight loss of one half to two pounds per week is a good goal for most people. We recommend increased physical activity and a sustainable diet, as extremely low-fat diets can inhibit gallbladder contractions as well. 

Related: What Are Gallstones?

Digestive Issues

Gallstones have the potential to mimic other digestive issues, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stools of an unusual color, and dark urine. If you’re experiencing chronic gallbladder disease, you may also experience unwanted symptoms of acid reflux, excessive gas, indigestion, and heartburn. It may be difficult to distinguish a problem with your gallbladder from other digestion issues, but more than four bowel movements per day for at least three months or an unexplained fever may signal you have an infection in need of treatment. 

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms outlined in this article, you’re probably wondering what the procedure looks like for gallbladder removal. Whalen Clark, M.D., a premier colorectal surgeon in Tampa who handles everything from colorectal cancer and gallbladder disease to hernias and pancreatic cancer, utilizes the cutting-edge technology of the da Vinci® surgical system to perform gallbladder removal through a single incision that leaves virtually no scar. You can leave the hospital in as little as one day and recover in as little as one week.

To learn more about gallbladder removal or colorectal surgery in Tampa, or to schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., please request an appointment today.

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