The gallbladder (located directly below the liver) stores bile from the liver before releasing it to the small intestine for later removal from the body through the feces. Abnormal bile acid concentrations can cause the formation of gallstones.
Dr. James Balch, co-author of "Prescription for Nutrition Healing," estimates that 20 million Americans have gallstones; one in 10 people may have gallstones without knowing it.
If a gallstone becomes lodged in the bile duct, you might experience nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper right abdominal region. These symptoms commonly occur after eating fried or fatty foods.
The presence of gallstones creates a risk of cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder.
Signs of Inflammation
When the gallbladder becomes inflamed, a person might experience severe pain in the upper right abdomen or across the chest, sometimes accompanied by fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Other symptoms of gallbladder disease include constant pain below the breastbone to the shoulder that radiates into the back, lasting from 30 minutes to several hours, very dark-colored urine, shaking, chills and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes.)
If an inflamed gallbladder is left untreated, it can be life-threatening.