The gallbladder is a small organ located near the liver. It stores bile, a liquid released to help break down fats during digestion. One can live without this organ, and gallbladder removal is quite common. The formation of gallstones is the primary reason for removal. Gallstones are hard rocks that form out of crystals in the bile. They block areas of the gallbladder and cause a gallbladder attack. These attacks usually come on suddenly and are marked by pain ranging from dull to sharp, and often radiates into the back. Symptoms of gallbladder attack are often confused with those of a heart attack. These attacks can last minutes or hours. If left untreated, gallstones can rupture the gallbladder. Removal of the organ is most likely necessary if the stones progress to a problematic size. Certain factors heighten the risk of gallbladder issues. Advanced age increases risk, as do diets high in fatty foods, high cholesterol, and obesity. Family history can also play a role in susceptibility.
Note that moderate symptoms of a gallbladder attack aren't necessarily cause for immediate medical attention. Urgent situations involve the onset of vomiting, fever, and severe pain.
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