When the gallbladder is not working properly, a wide range of abdominal and digestive problems can develop. The gallbladder, a small sac under the liver, stores bile that is released into the small intestine to help the body digest fats. Common gallbladder problems include gallstones and cholecystitis, both of which can affect gallbladder function. In many cases, people can have a low functioning gallbladder for years without experiencing any signs or symptoms.
Gallbladder problems can result in a type of abdominal pain called biliary colic. This type of abdominal pain is typically felt in the center of the right side of the abdomen, and it can be severe. In some cases, the pain can radiate to the back and shoulder. Biliary colic can last anywhere from just a few minutes to several hours or even days, and pain relievers will not alleviate the discomfort.
A low functioning gallbladder can also cause several digestive problems. Some people develop nausea and vomiting, and the abdomen can also be bloated and tender to the touch. In addition, loss of appetite sometimes develops as a result of gallbladder problems.
Other signs of gallbladder problems include fever and chills, which usually develop when the gallbladder is swollen and inflamed. In some cases, people develop chronic diarrhea and severe gas. In addition, when gallstones cause problems with gallbladder function, this can result in jaundice, dark-colored urine and light stools.