Skip to main content

Gallbladder - Facts and My Experience

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Gallbladder Problem Statistics

There is a high incidence of gallbladder surgeries in North and South America, probably due to diet. While gallbladder cancer is not too common, the incidence in Northern India is the highest in the world, possibly due to the intake of chickpeas and heavy water pollution in villages. Gallbladder problems are rare in Africa.

Gallbladder Function

The gallbladder is located just about your liver. It is small and has a pear-shape. It holds bile, a digestive fluid that is released into your small intestine as necessary.

Gallstones may occur as a hardened deposit made of the digestive fluid (bile), and they may range in size. They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. You may develop just one stone or several. Gallstones typically cause no symptoms.

Research has concluded that gallstones may be caused by a combination of factors, which include body weight, an inherited body chemistry, gallbladder motility and a low-calorie diet.


Problem Gallbladder Symptoms

When I was in nursing school I heard that the highest incidence of gallbladder surgeries occurred in women who were “fair, fat and forty”. I was not fat, but I had my gallbladder removed many years ago.

Women who have had children and are overweight are more likely to have a problem with their gallbladder. Men with diabetes are also at a higher risk.

The symptoms of a gallbladder problem include:

  • Sharp abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Indigestion
  • Jaundice (skin and eyes will look yellow)
  • Over 40 years of age

Gallbladder Removal Laparoscopic Surgery Patient Education

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you have any of the above symptoms, particularly the sharp abdominal pain, an ultrasound or CAT scan will typically be ordered. A HIDA scan is sometimes ordered, which uses a dye injection to reveal how well your gallbladder and bile duct are working.

Most of the time a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (keyhole surgery) is done, and sometimes it is done with a robotic arm. Four very small cuts are made, then a flexible tube containing a light and tiny video camera is inserted into the abdomen. A special tube is then used to remove the gallbladder.

Some cases require an open surgery, which require a five to seven inch incision. This is a painful surgery as the incision is close to the diaphragm, and taking a deep breath is very uncomfortable. This type of surgery is necessary if you have very severe gallbladder disease, are very obese or in your last trimester of pregnancy.

Acute cholecystitis as seen on CT. Note the fat stranding around the enlarged gallbladder.

Acute cholecystitis as seen on CT. Note the fat stranding around the enlarged gallbladder.

My Experience

I did not know I had gallstones, and I did not have most of those symptoms. I woke up in the middle of night with intense pain in my right upper quadrant. I could not lie down or stand up because it hurt so much. I sat on the edge of the bed for a while, then decided to go to the emergency room to the hospital where I worked. My husband took me at five o’clock in the morning. I had an ultrasound that showed gallstones stuck in my bile duct. They told me surgery was the best option. A surgeon that I respected did my surgery about noon that day. I was only in the hospital overnight.

I took it very easy for a few days, then two weeks out I left for a planned trip with my sister. I did fine on the trip. I can honestly say I had less pain and a faster recovery with this surgery than any other one. I had a very small incision and very little pain.

Foods to Avoid

There are some foods to avoid that may help to prevent gallstones. Those foods include:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Refined white foods (like breads, pastas)
  • Peanut oil
  • Processed foods
  • Foods high in fat
Scroll to Continue

Healthy Gallbladder Foods

There are some foods that are healthy for your gallbladder, and they include:

  • Citrus Fruits
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Milk
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Sardines
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Tempeh

Diseases of the Gallbladder

Final Thoughts

To stay healthy as possible for your gallbladder health, eat white foods sparingly, such as pastas, sugars and breads. Avoid smoking and alcoholic beverages as well. If you do have a problem with gallstones and need surgery, most of the time the surgery goes very smoothing and is not too painful.

I recently learned that it is possible to have gallstones many years after the gallbladder has been removed, although this is rare. The stones can be easily removed, according to my daughter-in-law. Her elderly mother is currently hospitalized and has been diagnosed this problem.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 20, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I'm glad you found this article informative, and that you avoided this problem. I know you have had your shared of medical problems.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you are having a good week.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on October 20, 2021:

Pamela, very informative with excellent photos. Glad, that's one problem I've avoided. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 20, 2021:

Hi Devika,

A change in diet may help some, but this is sometimes passed down in the genes. I was glad to share my personal experience and other facts that are available from reliable websites.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good day!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 20, 2021:

Pamela99 Gallbladder is often not spoken of unless there is pain. A simple change in diet can solve many health issues. I understand from your hub the Gallbladder can be treated and your experience helps us know more about this health issue.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 20, 2021:

Hi again Doris,

We are all different with different needs. You and your husband have sure ben through some tough times. That incision you had is huge. I guess I lucked out having the laparoscopic surgery. At 85 pounds you were the size of a child really. I imagine you were malnourished. I didn't read about being born with gallstones, but that is possible. I had no clue I had a problem until that night when I woke up in severe pain. The stones were stuck in my bile duct, hence the pain.

It is a shame your husband still has problems with his diet. We all simply do the best we can.

Thank you for your generous comments. Stay healthy!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 19, 2021:

Here I am again, Pamela. I just commented on your celiac article. This is a fine thorough article. I don't know how two people with so many medical problems could get together and produce me, but my parents did. Celiac from mommy and gall bladder problems from daddy just to name a few. My gall bladder, containing six thumbnail-sized stones, was removed when I was 23, but I can't put my finger on when the problem actually began. I was definitely not fat or forty. My doctor said I might have been born with the stones because they were so large. I ate a healthy farm diet growing up, mostly homegrown veggies and fruits. At some time, I gave up eating meat because it made me nauseated and sometimes came back up. I remember getting sick on Sunday fried chicken when I was in elementary school. The incision ran from my above my naval to just above my hip bone. I was in the hospital for 9 days because I was so sick, but the doctor said I was so skinny from malnutrition that it was the easiest one he ever removed. (Malnutrition because the gall bladder had ceased functioning.) At 5 ft. tall, I weighed less than 85 lbs. at the time. Today I'm chunky at 135 lbs and the incision is about 9 inches long. LOL I'd become so sick that my surgeon did exploratory surgery, making a giant incision in my little skinny tummy. The surgery messed up the muscles connected to my back, and I've had a weak back ever since then.

In 2013 I rushed my very sick husband to the ER at the VA just in time. His gall bladder was set to explode. He had a totally unsymptomatic, undetected gall bladder problem. They got the swelling down and put him on antibiotics, then scheduled his surgery for later. In the meantime, stones entered the bile duct and his fever rose to 104 degrees, and he was out of his head. Emergency surgery was performed and the offending organ was finally removed.

I don't recall having any food problems after my surgery, other than a short problem with fried eggs. My husband has had digestive problem since day one and is still being treated for them. My diet has changed very little except now I can eat meat. His diet has radically changed. We certainly are all individuals.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 19, 2021:

Hi Swati,

I am glad you liked the article. I appreciate your comments. Blessings for you.

Swati Sharma from India on October 18, 2021:

A very informative article is written by you Pamela ma'am, thank you for sharing this valuable information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 18, 2021:

Hi Maria,

I know some people have trouble eating some types of food after their gallbladder is removed, but it is usually only temporary. It may have been tue, but often it is more spicy or greasy food.

Your mother must have had the older surgery with the 5"-7" incision since she was in the hospital for a wek. My mother had that type of surgery also, and it is quite painful.

I am glad you found the information to be good. I didn't now you were a public health educator. I was a RN.

I appreciate your comments, as always. I hope you have a great week!

MariaMontgomery from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 18, 2021:

Excellent information, Pamela. Thank you for writing such an informative article. As a public health educator, I appreciate you getting this type of info out to the public. My mom had her gallbladder removed when she was 36 or 37. My parents and my uncle & aunt were set to leave on a trip to see the Grand Ole Opry, and that morning, she ended up in the hospital where she stayed for a week. From then on, she said she could not digest apple peelings or peach peelings. Do you think that's true, or did she simple believe it was true?

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 18, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

I want to help people understand medical issues with my articles, so I am glad you feel that way.

I appreciate you comments. Have a good week!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 17, 2021:


My uncle had his removed, but I never knew where it was or even understood it.

Your articles help others.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

I only had pain that one day. I had no idea the I had gallstones until that night, so I guesss it could have been worse. I did recover quickly.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you have a good week.

Adrienne Farricelli on October 17, 2021:

I remember when working for a pharmacy, the sickened look on the face of a person suffering from gallbladder pain. Sorry to hear you had gallbladder issues, I am glad it all went well and you recovered fast.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I am glad you enjoy learning from the medical articles. I appreciate your comments, as always. Have a great week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2021:

Hi Linda,

This is a common medical problem. The liver actually makes the bile, and the gallbladder stores it, so we can still function. Many people have some digestive problems after surgery but they usually resolve fairly soon.

I appreciate your comments, and I already knew that you ate in a healthy manner. Good for you! Have a good week, Linda.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2021:

Hi Farah,

I am glad you found this article informative. Thank you for your comments. Blessings!

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on October 17, 2021:

Pamela, another great and important article. I always enjoy and learn from your articles. Thank you.