What Is a Gallbladder Attack?

A gallbladder attack is defined as an episode in which an improperly functioning gallbladder creates a great deal of pain, nausea, and dizziness. In many cases, a gallbladder attack will evidence symptoms that are very similar to those of a heart attack. Because of this similarity, it is very important to seek medical attention immediately, so a health professional can determine if the pain and discomfort is the result of an issue with the heart or points toward some type of gallbladder problem.

A gallbladder attack may be associated with the presence of gallstones. A gallstone may be composed of elements such as excess cholesterol, calcium, or other bile elements that pass through the gallbladder. The stones are not unlike kidney stones in that they are usually small, sharp and can cause a great deal of discomfort if not treated.

There are a number of symptoms associated with gallbladder problems. Attacks may be relatively mild or extremely painful. A gallbladder attack often takes place after consuming a meal and can cause a great deal of pain in the abdomen. There may be pain or a sense of tenderness just under the rib cage, a pronounced sense of fullness accompanied by indigestion, and even a great deal of burping that does not seem to offer any relief.

In severe situations, the gallbladder attack may also involve regurgitation to the point of dry heaving, an overall feeling of pain moving along the right side of the body and up to the shoulder blades, and even trouble breathing.
Depending on the circumstances, the attack may last for no more than fifteen minutes, although it is possible for an attack to last as long as several hours if left untreated.
There are some ways to minimize the potential for an attack when the individual has a history of gallbladder problems. Ridding the diet of foods with a high acid content, such as orange juice, will often help ease the abdominal pain and other symptoms associated with gallbladder disease. Choosing to consume less bread has been helpful for some people, while limiting portions at meals can also make a difference. Avoiding dairy products is sometimes helpful when seeking to prevent a gallbladder attack.

Fortunately, there are ways to effectively treat a gallbladder attack. Prescription medication can help ease the pain quickly as well as minimize the symptoms. Practitioners of alternative medicines often point to the use of herbs such as alfalfa to help ease pain and discomfort. In situations where the attacks are severe, it may be necessary to surgically remove any gallstones and possibly the gallbladder itself. Removal of the gallbladder is normally only an option when other methods are no longer effective.