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Gallbladder Attack: Causes, Treatment, What Does It Feel Like, How Long Does A Gallbladder Attack Last

What Causes A Gallbladder Attack?

Gallbladder Attacks are episodes of excruciating pain in the right upper quadrant that may radiate to the back or the chest. Gallbladder attacks are usually caused by the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ located in the abdominal region which stores liquid called bile which is secreted by the liver. Bile is required by the body in the digestive process especially to break down fats.

Thus, whenever we eat fatty food, the gallbladder releases the bile through bile ducts to the intestines to help break down the fats. What happens sometimes when the gallbladder is in a diseased state and is not able to function properly. This results in the formation of stones in the gallbladder. Stones which are small can pass through the bile duct but the larger stones get trapped in the bile duct and thus obstructs the flow of bile and causes inflammation that is often at times extremely painful.

Sometimes, the gallbladder can also become infected, a condition called as cholecystitis which may also cause excruciating pain and what is called as a Gallbladder Attack

Gallbladder Attack

What Does A Gallbladder Attack Feel Like?

As stated, Gallbladder Attacks cause an individual to feel sudden excruciating pain in the right upper quadrant that may radiate to the back and chest. This gallbladder attack may last for a few minutes to a few hours and then go away only to return again. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sweating, fever and chills.

The individual suffering from gallbladder attack may have symptoms similar to jaundice with yellow colored urine and clay colored stools. All of these symptoms indicate the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder requiring treatment and prevent further Gallbladder Attacks.

How Long Does A Gallbladder Attack Last?

As stated above, Gallbladder Attacks usually begin out of the blue and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. In some cases, the pain associated with gallbladder attack is so excruciating that the individual may need to be hospitalized. This gallbladder attack pain is recurring in nature and once it fades away it always has a tendency to return with greater venom. During Gallbladder Attacks it is essential for the individual to stay calm and not to panic.

Treatment for Gallbladder Attack

The best way to treat gallstones is by doing a gallbladder surgery and removing the gallbladder in its entirety. Removing the gallbladder totally may predispose the patient to some digestive problems but it may prevent the individual from further Gallbladder Attacks.

The surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy. This can be done in two ways of which one is open form which is the more conventional and one is laparoscopic form which is a novel way of treating gallstones. In an open cholecystectomy a surgical incision is made in the abdomen and the gallbladder is removed in its entirety. This surgery is a bit more complex and requires about a week of hospitalization and it takes about a month for the patient to fully recover from the surgery. The second form of surgery which is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy is minimally invasive and requires very small incisions to be made in the abdomen and camera and instruments are inserted through the incisions and the gallbladder is removed. With this procedure, the patient requires a hospital stay of maximum one day and the recovery is within a week postsurgery.

In cases where a patient is unable to have surgical procedure due to comorbid conditions, they are prescribed medications which tend to dissolve the gallstones and prevent gallbladder attacks. The effectiveness of these medications however is questionable or the medications take a long time to kick in and the patient has to deal with Gallbladder Attacks till such time.

Lithotripsy is yet another procedure to break the gallstones which utilizes the help of sound waves to do so. In this procedure the stones are broken up into very small parts which can easily pass through the urine and thus treat gallstones and prevent Gallbladder Attacks.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2023

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