The increase in risk associated with gallbladder issues can lead to sharp pain and potential gallbladder attacks. It’s important to consider conditions like gallbladder polyps and monitor symptoms such as bloating, rapid weight loss, and yellowing of the whites of your eyes (jaundice). Diagnostic tools like imaging tests are crucial in identifying issues with the common bile duct and ensuring proper treatment for those experiencing digestive difficulties with fat consumption.

That said, regular check-ups are highly recommended if you want to ensure your gallbladder remains healthy and functional. While gallbladder problems are more common in women than men, it can affect anyone at any age. Although there is no specific age at which individuals should be screened for the health of their gallbladder, it is generally recommended that people over the age of forty begin to consider scheduling annual gallbladder examinations as part of their regular healthcare routine. Knowing the warning signs of a potential problem with your gallbladder can help you get to the doctor quickly, so that you can receive the treatment you need. 

Possible Symptoms That Could Indicate Gallbladder Problems

Gallbladder issues can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. Here are some common symptoms:

Abdominal Pain

The most common symptom of a gallbladder problem is a mild to severe pain in the upper right side or middle of your abdomen. You can experience severe gallbladder pain that may feel sharp and intense or present as a dull throb, and can have many different contributing factors. Abdominal pain usually begins shortly after eating and may last from minutes to hours. You may also feel a burning sensation or nausea along with the pain. 


Gallbladder problems can often result in bloating, a feeling of fullness and swelling in the abdominal area. While it’s normal for everyone to experience some degree of bloating from time to time, experiencing it often can indicate an underlying issue. 

Rapid Weight Loss

Gallbladder problems can also lead to sudden weight loss, as the body is unable to properly digest its food. This type of weight loss may seem desirable at first, but can lead to serious health implications if left untreated. 


Another common symptom of gallbladder problems is jaundice, which presents as the yellowing of the eyes and skin. Jaundice is an indicator that there are issues with the liver or bile duct, which can be caused by infection, inflammation or certain conditions like gallstones.

Additional Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems

Other common symptoms include indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, and gas. These are all signs that there is an issue with your gallbladder that needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. 

Paying attention to your body and being aware of warning signs associated with gallbladder disease is the key to catching it before it progresses into an even more serious condition. In some cases, issues with the gallbladder can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes but in other cases a health care provider may recommend gallbladder removal surgery. Your provider will be able to help you understand which treatment is best for you.

Possible Causes of Gallbladder Problems

Gallbladder issues are most often caused by having bile stored in the gallbladder for too long, leading to an excess of cholesterol and other problems. Other possible risk factors include a poor and high cholesterol diet, consuming large amounts of fatty foods, liver infections, and side effects from medicines such as antibiotics or hormonal birth control. 

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is an insidious issue by itself, but it can often lead to problems down the line. Those with high cholesterol need to be aware of their risk for gallbladder problems, including gallstones, gallbladder inflammation and pain.


Gallstones are one of the most common causes of gallbladder issues, which can occur when hardened deposits form in the organ. Gallstones develop when there is too much cholesterol, bilirubin, or calcium in the bile. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver that helps with digestion and contains these substances. When an abnormally high amount of these substances are present in the bile, it can cause crystals or stones to form within the gallbladder. This can lead to gallbladder inflammation, pain, and other symptoms. Risk factors for gallstones include being overweight or obese, eating a high-fat diet, having diabetes, rapid weight loss, and certain medications such as birth control pills. Additionally, certain ethnicities are more likely to develop gallstones than others. 

Symptomatic Gallstones

Symptomatic gallstones are when the stones cause a bile duct block from being stuck. Symptoms usually include intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and yellowing of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice). If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen over time and lead to serious complications. Acute cholecystitis is one of the issues that can result from symptomatic gallstones. Acute cholecystitis is when symptomatic gallstones develop inflammation in the gallbladder caused by a blockage in the bile ducts. It can be triggered by more severe issues, such as gallstones or tumors, but it can also be caused by a virus or bacterial infection. Symptomatic gallstones can also cause dark urine. Dark urine can indicate the presence of bile pigments from the breakdown of red blood cells. Other symptoms associated with gallstones may include pain in the right side under the ribs and nausea. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to speak to your doctor for further advice

It’s important to note that there is a difference between normal gallstones and symptomatic gallstones. Normal gallstones occur when the bile produced by the liver contains too much cholesterol and it crystallizes in the gallbladder, forming stones. These usually do not cause any symptoms. Symptomatic gallstones are more serious, as they become stuck within the biliary duct and cause blockages. These can cause intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice). 

Gallbladder Inflammation

Another possible cause of issues is gallbladder inflammation. This usually occurs when bacteria enters the gallbladder, and can cause symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice. If left untreated, it can worsen to the point where surgery is needed for gallbladder removal. Gallbladder inflammation can be an indicator of gallbladder disease, but it is not usually indicative of cancer. While your doctor may perform tests to check for signs of cancer, most cases of an inflamed gallbladder are caused by infection or the formation of stones. If you have signs and symptoms that indicate possible gallbladder cancer, such as jaundice, unexplained weight loss, or abdominal pain that does not go away, you should contact your doctor for further testing.

Medication Side Effects

Medication spilling from a pill bottle

Certain medications can also have an impact on the health of your gallbladder and may even cause gallbladder symptoms. These medications include antibiotics, hormonal birth control and some drugs used to treat diabetes. If you are taking any of these types of drugs and experiencing persistent abdominal pain or other symptoms that may indicate a problem with your gallbladder, contact your doctor for further evaluation. 

Diagnosis and Treatment Options 

Doctor holding tools

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away so they can diagnose the problem and begin treating it before it gets worse. Your doctor will likely do an ultrasound to check for gallbladder stones or other abnormalities in your gallbladder or bile ducts. Depending on what they find during this test, they may order additional tests like blood work or imaging scans to get a better understanding of what’s going on inside your body. If you have been diagnosed with a gallbladder problem, there are several treatment options available to you depending on the severity of your condition. 

Gallbladder Removal Surgery 

Gallbladder removal surgery can provide significant relief to patients suffering from gallstones, biliary colic, and other common afflictions of the gallbladder. The operation itself is fairly straightforward and typically only requires an overnight stay in the hospital. Although the recovery period will vary depending on the specific patient, complete resolution of symptoms usually occurs within two weeks of the surgery. As such, it is a safe and effective solution for those experiencing pain or discomfort in relation to their gallbladder.

Lifestyle Changes

Healthy food on a table

For mild cases, lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms and keep them from getting worse over time. There are several lifestyle changes that can reduce symptoms associated with the gallbladder. These include having a healthy diet, eating smaller meals instead of three large ones throughout the day, reducing stress, limiting consumption of fat and spicy foods, avoiding caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as well as incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Additionally, adjusting your diet so that it is low on sources of saturated fat and having more fruits and vegetables will also help improve the overall functioning of your digestive system which may reduce the chance of developing gallstones.

All of these actions will go a long way in helping improve your gallbladder health and quality of life. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove stones or other blockages from your gall bladder or bile ducts. 

Keeping an eye out for symptoms associated with a gallbladder disease is key if you want to maintain good health and reduce risks associated with this condition over time. While some lifestyle changes can provide relief from mild cases of this condition, more severe cases may require surgical intervention to ensure proper functioning of this important organ in the digestion process. If you suspect that something might be wrong with your gallbladder, don’t hesitate to reach out for medical advice soon! Doing so could save you from unnecessary suffering down the line!