The most immediate cause of gallbladder attack symptoms is bile obstruction due to gallstones blocking the flow of the bile. This obstruction can occur on the gallbladder’s opening, along the cystic duct, or along the bile duct.
However, since bile is a product of the liver, anything that affects liver health may also affect the gallbladder’s condition.
In other words, liver diseases, bacterial infections, fatty food, tumors, and alcohol abuse can have an impact on the gallbladder.
Let’s take a look at the workings of the gallbladder.
How does the gallbladder work and what will make it stop working?
The gallbladder is a tiny sac that stores bile and delivers it via the bile duct into the small intestines. Its job is to break down and digest the fats in the food we eat.
When something obstructs bile movement, various problems can arise.
Digestion and absorption of nutrients may be impaired. The liver will continue to produce bile even with obstructed flow. This will create pressure inside the gallbladder. Gallstone attack symptoms will then ensue.
How do you describe gallstone attack symptoms?
It’s true that a healthy gallbladder will barely get your attention. You’d be surprised at how a gallstone attack does the exact opposite.
The abdominal pain it causes ranges from throbbing to excruciating and from infrequent to recurring.
There’s no mistaking the pain. It will get your attention, no question about that.
Gallstone attack symptoms are often described as:
- Sharp pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen;
- Abdominal pain radiating beneath the right shoulder blade and to the back;
- Severe pain lasting for several hours;
- Mild pain lasting well over the night;
- Intense pain usually after a heavy and high-fat meal;
- Increasing pain when you take deep breaths;
- Tenderness in the upper right portion of your abdomen;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Dark urine and clay-colored stools;
- Chest pain, which can sometimes be mistaken as heart attack;
- Excessive gas;
- Jaundice – the yellowing of the eyes and skin;
- Severe fever with chills, and lastly;
- Abdominal pain so agonizing you can’t even sit, lie still, or be able to keep food down.
If you experience any of the last three gallstone attack symptoms, we advise you to seek immediate medical attention.
How does alcohol affect gallbladder health?
All these still beg the bigger question of how does alcohol cause the gallbladder to become unhealthy.
There’s no study that directly links alcohol to gallstones.
In fact, if consumed in small amounts, alcohol may even help in preventing gallstones.
Before you go on binge drinking, however, you must fully understand how alcohol affects the liver. Alcohol abuse is directly linked to liver cirrhosis.
This disease, incidentally, is a major risk factor for gallstones. Cirrhosis causes the liver to overproduce bilirubin. Bilirubin is the main component of pigment gallstones. So, while there’s no direct connection between alcohol and the gallbladder, we know that the liver has a direct connection to the gallbladder.
Can I prevent gallstones if I have a history of excessive alcohol use?
If you had been a heavy drinker in the past, it doesn’t automatically make you a candidate for gallstones. If you don’t have the symptoms mentioned, then good for you. The danger is if you have liver cirrhosis or the precursors of this disease, which are fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis.
If you’re lucky enough and you don’t have those diseases, either, then it’s about time to change your lifestyle.
Clean up and stop alcohol abuse while you have the chance. Cirrhosis takes decades to develop, but if you wait too long, it might be too late.
Yes, you may still prevent gallstones from forming. Stop alcohol abuse, change to a high-fiber low-fat diet, and engage in mental and physical activities. Gradually attain the ideal weight for your age and height and keep it.
The crux of the matter
Alcohol does not directly impact on the gallbladder.
Moderate drinking is even beneficial. However, too much alcohol may cause liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis which contributes to the formation of pigment gallstones. So if you don’t want to cause problems to your gallbladder, show your liver some love. Too much alcohol and gallstones simply don’t mix.