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What Are the Symptoms of a Gallbladder Problem?

author image Iva Gutowski
Iva Gutowski is a practicing nurse with health care experience since 2001. She has worked in the hospital setting on medical/surgical floors and critical care units. She has been a writer since 1999. Her experience includes articles for "The Asheville Citizen-Times," "The McDowell News," and "The Old Fort News." Gutowski holds a License Practical Nursing degree from McDowell Technical Community College
What Are the Symptoms of a Gallbladder Problem?
A bad gallbladder often requires surgery.

The gallbladder is a small organ that is located near the upper right quadrant of the stomach under the ribcage. It stores bile that is produced by the liver and later secretes this bile into the intestines, where it assists in digesting fats. Many people with a bad gallbladder also develop gallstones, which can inhibit the natural functioning of the gallbladder. If you experience any of the common symptoms of a bad gallbladder, it is important to visit your physician for treatment. He will be able to determine if your condition can be managed with diet and medications, or if surgery is necessary to remove the diseased organ.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting is one of the most experienced symptoms of a bad gallbladder. When the gallbladder is not utilizing bile efficiently, the body becomes less able to digest fats that are ingested through dietary intake. This results in cases of nausea and sometimes vomiting. Some people may experience only mild nausea, while others may develop severe cases that often result in trips to the emergency room for medications and fluid replenishment.


When someone has a bad gallbladder, the body is less efficient or incapable of digesting fats. Fats are typically broken down in the intestines via bile. When the body is not able to break down these fats, they pass quickly through the intestinal tract. This will result in diarrhea. It is common for someone with a bad gallbladder to experience frequent and prolonged bouts of diarrhea. When not suffering from diarrhea, these people will experience soft stools that are not fully formed, yet not fully diarrhea.

Stool Changes

Many people who suffer from a bad gallbladder will start noticing changes in their stool. As opposed to a solidly formed medium brown stool, their stool may appear yellow or light tan in color. Some may experience stool that is almost chalky in color. This is due to excess fats being present in the stool that are no longer being digested by the body. The stool may also develop a very strong and foul odor.


A classic symptom of a bad gallbladder is pain. The gallbladder is located on the right side of the abdomen and under the ribcage. Pain will be located in this area and may radiate towards the center of the abdomen. The pain may also be present in the middle of the back directly underneath the ribcage and radiate towards the right side of the back. Pain is commonly stronger after a meal or snack that is high in grease or fat content.

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