At What Point Should You Go To The Hospital
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Gallbladder Pain: Causes And Symptoms
Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that sits under your liver in the upper right part of your stomach. Its job is to store bile and break down fat from the food you ingest. If you are experiencing pain the upper right part of your stomach it could be due do a gallbladder issue, such as:
- Cholecystitis inflammation of the gallbladder
- Gallstones hard deposits in the gallbladder that consist of cholesterol, bilirubin or salt
- Bile duct stones stone-like objects that get stuck in the common bile duct
- Gallbladder Polyps growths that protrude from the lining of the gallbladder
- Porcelain gallbladder calcification of the gallbladder that is most commonly found in overweight, middle aged female patients
- Gallbladder cancer an uncommon type of cancer that forms as a result of mutations in the cells of the gallbladder
Most gallbladder problems cause similar symptoms, including:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-colored stools and dark urine
You Have Stomach Pain
Belly pain can be hard to ID, in part because it often takes some time to manifest, says Roth. An example: Appendicitis can start with generalized aches and pains all over and then move down to the right lower abdomen area and hurt more when you move around. General stomachaches can usually be treated by a virtual or urgent care visit, as can migraines if you get them regularly and notice they frequently come with abdominal pain.
Anything new or pain thats worsening should likely be checked out at an ER, says Roth. Pain in the right upper abdomen, especially after you eat, could point to a gallbladder issue, he notes, while severe pain that radiates to the back could be kidney stones. Though these issues are not likely life-threatening, you might need more advanced care and evaluation from an ER.
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What Causes A Gallbladder Attack
One of the main gallbladder attack causes is the presence of gallstones. These are formed by the deposition of excess bile salts, mineral salts such as calcium or potassium oxalate, or high levels of cholesterol in the bile. There can be many, small-sized gallstones or few, large gallstones that can be present in the gallbladder.
The large ones are particularly problematic as these can get lodged in the bile duct causing the duct to get blocked and not allowing the gallbladder to secrete the bile into the small intestine. The excessive backup of bile in the gallbladder leads to inflammation or infection which are the main causes of severe, acute abdominal pain. This condition is known as cholelithiasis.
The small gallstones do not pose any serious threat and are usually passed out without any aggravating symptoms. However, the presence of these gallstones in the gallbladder for a long period can often lead to calcification or hardening of the stones due to calcium deposits that can cause the gallbladder mucosa to get inflamed, swollen, and infected leading to acute pain in the stomach. In medical terminology, this condition is known as cholecystitis.
Both of the above-mentioned conditions can be acute or chronic and are the primary causes of a gallbladder attack.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Gallbladder Surgery
Your recovery time will depend on which procedure you had.
- Laparoscopic: Most people can leave the hospital on the same day or the day after the operation. If you leave that day, have someone stay with you for at least 24 hours as you may still be feeling the effects of the anesthesia. Youll likely be able to return to your normal activities in about two weeks.
- Open: Usually youll have to stay in the hospital for three to five days afterwards. Recovery takes about six to eight weeks.
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What Is The Treatment For Gallstones
The only way to prevent future episodes of biliary colic is to surgically remove the gallbladder . A visit to the ED for gallstones usually entails treating the patients pain, and then providing a referral to a general surgeon to arrange an elective procedure to remove the gallbladder .
Surgery is an easy choice for most patients who experience frequent episodes of pain that is significantly impacting their quality of life. Some patients, however, have much milder or infrequent symptoms and they simply rely on dietary changes and pain medication to manage these episodes. Typically this requires having pain and nausea medication on hand when an episode of biliary colic occurs and does not quickly resolve. Additionally, as bile secretion is typically triggered by foods higher in fat and cholesterol, a low-fat diet may help to control symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cholecystitis
Symptoms of cholecystitis include:
- an intense pain in the middle or right side of the upper abdomen, or between the shoulders
- indigestion, especially after fatty food
Symptoms often appear after someone has eaten a large, fatty meal.
If you are in pain, don’t ignore it because cholecystitis is a serious condition can lead to complications. An infection in your abdomen can be very serious. See your doctor if the pain lasts for more than 3 hours. If the pain is very bad, go straight to your nearest hospital emergency department.
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Complications Of A Gallbladder Attack
Complications of gallbladder attacks include:
- Jaundice: This is yellowing of the skin or eyes.
- Acute cholangitis: This infection of the bile duct ranges from mild to life threatening.
- Acute pancreatitis: This inflammation of the pancreas causes a severe or dull ache near the top of the stomach.
- Peritonitis: This inflammation of the abdominal lining is due to a tear in the gallbladder. It can be life threatening.
- Gallstone ileum : A gallstone can obstruct the bowel, requiring immediate treatment to prevent rupture.
- Gallbladder cancer : This cancer is more common in people who have had gallstones.
Although gallbladder attacks can resolve by themselves if the stone moves, you should go to the hospital if the pain does not stop. Even if the pain goes away, it is important to contact your doctor. If you have had a gallbladder attack, you are at greater risk for another.
Watch Out For Gallstones And Five Other Abdominal Emergencies
Gallstones are a common condition that can get worse if not managed. Having gallstones in your gallbladder can cause a considerable amount of pain in your abdomen and lower back areas. When are abdominal pains bad enough to require a visit to the ER? Lets start with gallstones and then add five other abdominal emergencies that warrant a trip to the emergency room.
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What Is The Treatment For A Gallbladder Attack
Gallbladder attack treatment and management are fairly simple. Your doctor will carry out a few tests to diagnose the underlying issue that is causing severe abdominal pain. Usually, an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, and blood test can help determine the presence of gallstones. IVs, pain relievers, and antibiotics are given to reduce the pain and cure the infection.
If the condition is serious or chronic, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the gallbladder, also known as cholecystectomy. This is a safe and minimally invasive method. The liver will continue to produce bile that will be directly secreted into the small intestine instead of getting stored in the gallbladder.
What Are The Alternatives To Gallbladder Removal
If you have gallstones but they aren’t causing any symptoms, or surgery to remove them isn’t suitable for you, there may be alternative treatments. Sometimes gallstones can be dissolved using medicines, however gallstones often come back after this type of treatment and it is therefore rarely used.
If gallstones are in your bile duct and not in your gallbladder, they can be removed during ERCP. An endoscope, which is guided using X-rays, is passed into your mouth and down to your bile duct. Special instruments can also be inserted inside the endoscope to allow your surgeon to remove the gallstones from your bile duct. ERCP can only be used to remove gallstones if they are found in your bile ducts. If gallstones are in your gallbladder itself, you may need gallbladder surgery as well. Your surgeon will discuss any possible alternative treatments with you.
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Why Do Gallstones Cause Pain
Gallstones are a common finding, and often do not cause any pain or problems when they remain peacefully in the gallbladder. As the gallbladder is squeezing its gallbladder juice into the intestine, however, one of these stones can decide to go on a little field trip into the small intestine along with the surrounding bile. When this happens, the stones can get lodged in the narrow part of the gallbladder , or the smaller duct that connects the gallbladder to the intestine . This leads to painful episodes as the stone travels through a narrow passage, like Santa Clause getting shoved down a chimney after a night full of cookies and milk.
An episode of biliary colic, as we refer to it, is most likely to develop after eating when the gallbladder is actively contracting. It often feels like sharp or band-like pain in the upper abdomen , but can sometimes feel more like pain in the chest, back, or even the right shoulder. It is common to also experience nausea and vomiting along with the pain. Most times, the pain eventually resolves when the gallbladder calms down or the stones passes into the intestine, however, the length of an episode can be highly variable.
Could It Be Gallstones
Gallstones are tiny, hard pebbles made from fats, proteins, and minerals in your body. A gallbladder attack typically happens when gallstones block the bile duct or tube. When this happens, bile builds up in the gallbladder.
The blockage and swelling trigger pain. The attack normally stops when the gallstones move and bile can flow out.
There are two main types of gallstones:
- Cholesterol gallstones. These make up the most common type of gallstones. They look white or yellow because theyre made out of cholesterol or fat.
- Pigment gallstones. These gallstones are made when your bile has too much bilirubin. Theyre dark brown or black in color. Bilirubin is the pigment or color that makes red blood cells red.
You can have gallstones without having a gallbladder attack. In the United States, about 9 percent of women and 6 percent of men have gallstones without any symptoms. Gallstones that dont block the bile duct usually wont cause symptoms.
Other types of gallbladder problems that may cause pain are:
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How To Decide If You Should Go To Urgent Care Or The Er
Don’t wait until the moment one of these 10 common ailments strikes.
Aches and pains and colds and “having one of those days” are things we all have to suffer through from time to time, but not all ailments are created equal. When you think you broke something or you’re concerned about a funky rash , your instinct might be to run to the emergency room.
But as it turns out, a visit to an urgent care facility is often all you need. Whereas emergency departments exist to provide immediate care to patients without appointments , urgent care centers can treat a broad spectrum of conditions, particularly those not serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
Basically, if you can walk and talk and have an idea of what might be wrong , you can skip the ER, says Jason Roth, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, CO.
You should also start with urgent care if cost is a concern the average visit will run you about $170, as opposed to, say, $2,000 at the ER.
Of course, more serious concerns like heavy bleeding, chest pain, weakness, and head injuries warrant a trip to the ER.
So that you don’t have to decide in the moment, we’ve compiled this guide to help you choose between urgent care and the ER when 10 common ailments strike.
Reasons To Treat Your Gallbladder Issues Now
- Jennifer Owens, MD, FACS
If youve ruled out the possibility that your stomach pain is not just your average stomach pain, you could be experiencing gallbladder issues like gallstones, inflammation or polyps. If your symptoms progress from intermittent to on-going and severe, a trip to the emergency room may be in your future. Thats why it is crucial to listen to your body and schedule a visit with our gallbladder experts now.
5 Reasons to Treat Your Gallbladder Issues Now
Here are the signs to look for that may indicate something is wrong with your gallbladder.
- Sharp stomach pain in the center or upper right area of the abdomen
Pain usually occurs 20 minutes after eating meals with high fat content. If this pain happens at least one time per week for one month, you should not delay in seeing a doctor.
If your provider suspects your gallbladder is the culprit, he or she will order tests like an ultrasound or CT scan to discover the cause of your issues and gallbladder removal may be necessary. There are two ways that your gallbladder can be removed laparoscopically or through open surgery .
- Smaller incisions
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How Gallstones Are Found And Evaluated
It is not always easy to tell whether your symptoms are due to gallbladder problems or another health concern. This is because the symptoms can mimic other conditions like ulcers, appendicitis, pancreatitis, and even a heart attack.
A doctor can provide the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment by assessing your symptoms, doing an exam, and performing imaging studies.
Imaging tests can provide your doctor with important information about the size and location of a gallstone, as well as how it might be affecting other organs.
Types of imaging tests for gallstones include:
- Abdominal ultrasound: This imaging test is the most common test for gallstones. It can provide images of the gallbladder and bile ducts, and it can identify areas that are blocked or inflamed.
- Abdominal CT scan: This CT scan produces detailed pictures of the gallbladder and bile ducts. It can identify areas of inflammation and areas where the bile flow is blocked.
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography : This MRI scan creates detailed images of multiple organs in the area. These include the gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, pancreas, and pancreatic duct. It can identify gallstones, inflammation, and any problems with nearby organs.
When To Go To The Er For Stomach Pain
When youre really not feeling well, its natural to wonder when to go to the ER for stomach pain. Since stomach pain is so common, however, many people struggle to make this call.
So, how do you know when stomach pain is serious enough for a trip to the ER?
Complete Care to help answer this question. No more second-guessing when to go to the ER for stomach pain. Learn exactly which scenarios might necessitate a trip to the emergency room and which you can likely handle at home.
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What To Expect At The Hospital:
Your doctor will take a clinical history and perform an examination. If he suspects complicated gallstones, he will order an abdominal ultrasonography scan to confirm the condition.
Gallbladder removal is the ultimate treatment for acute cholecystitis.
But if you have bile duct obstruction with a stone, your doctor may perform a special type of endoscopy called Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography to relieve the obstruction.
Gallstone Symptoms: When To Get Emergency Care
The symptoms of gallstones are recognizable when the gallstones move into the bile duct and create swelling and irritation. The most common gallstone symptom is severe abdominal pain in the upper right area of the stomach, which can spread to the shoulder or upper back. You may also vomit and feel nauseous. Seek emergency medical care if these symptoms last more than two hours or you have a fever.
Around 80 percent of people who have gallstones never have symptoms.
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When To Seek Help
If you suspect you are having a gallbladder attack, visit emergency care right away. Finding out the underlying cause for your abdominal pain and getting it treated right away is important especially if you think that your gallbladder might be acting up. If left untreated, the recurrent and frequent bile duct blockages due to gallstones can be life-threatening.
Seek immediate medical help if you or someone you are with is experiencing the following symptoms for more than a few hours,
- Abdominal swelling, distention, or bloating for more than a few hours
- Dark, tea-colored urine and clay-colored stools
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain
- Yellowish skin and eyes