The gallbladder is located below the liver in the upper right-hand part of the abdomen. It is a small pear-shaped organ that stores bile, a liquid which helps the body digest fats. Inflammation is the body's response to damaged tissue or infection. Gallbladder inflammation is often a response to gallstones, pebble-sized material that sometimes forms in the gallbladder. If these gallstones block the ducts which carry bile in and out of the gallbladder, inflammation of the gallbladder can occur.
Symptoms of Inflammation
Only around 2 percent of people with gallstones develop inflammation of the gallbladder. This inflammation can cause pain in the upper right abdomen that sometimes increases when a person draws a breath. The pain may extend from the abdomen to the back, under the shoulder blades or behind the breast bone. Some patients will experience a fever and chills, and others may experience nausea and vomiting. These symptoms are an indication of a very serious problem, and anyone with these or similar symptoms should seek medical help immediately.
Other Symptoms of Gallstones
Many people who have gallstones will experience no symptoms. However, if the gallstones are blocking a bile duct, symptoms can occur. People who experience prolonged pain that lasts for more than five hours, nausea and vomiting, fever, chills, yellowish skin or yellow discoloration of the whites of the eyes, or clay-colored stools may be experiencing a gallbladder attack. These attacks can sometimes follow fatty meals or happen at night. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor immediately as these can be an indication of a large gallstone or other condition.
Most gallstones do not cause symptoms so they do not require treatment. Gallstones that cause pain or fever symptoms, however, do require treatment. If a patient is having frequent gallbladder symptoms, his doctor may recommend removal of the gallbladder, which is a non-essential organ. This surgery is one of the most common performed in the United States. If a patient has a medical condition and cannot undergo surgery, the doctor may give that patient oral medication or an injection to dissolve the gallstones.