The gallbladder is a tiny, pear-shaped organ situated below our livers on the right side of our abdomens; its function is to store the digestive fluid known as bile which is sporadically released into our small intestines.
Sometimes, hardened deposits of bile called gallstones can form in the gallbladder; these structures can be as miniscule as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball. While some who develop this condition only have to deal with one gallstone, some are burdened with multiple at once. Gallstones that are asymptomatic generally don’t require treatment, while those that do cause symptoms generally require surgery for their removal.
There are two types of gallstones that can develop:
- Pigment gallstones: this type of gallstone forms if your bile contains too high a concentration of bilirubin; these appear dark brown or black in color.
- Cholesterol gallstones: these are the most common type of gallstone. They’re mainly made up of undissolved cholesterol and are yellow in color.
The Mayo clinic recommends you seek immediate medical attention if you develop the signs of a serious gallstone issue:
- A high fever with chills
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
- Abdominal pain that’s so severe you can’t find a comfortable position or sit still