Surprising Signs That Indicate You Have Gallbladder Issues

Bad Breath Many things can cause bad breath: a garlic-heavy meal, smoking, or slacking on your dental health routine. But if you have persistent bad breath… Aisha Abdullah - April 5, 2023
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Bad Breath

Many things can cause bad breath: a garlic-heavy meal, smoking, or slacking on your dental health routine. But if you have persistent bad breath with no obvious cause, it could be a sign of something more serious. When your gallbladder isn’t functioning normally or if gallstones are causing bile duct blockage, you may experience extremely foul-smelling that doesn’t improve with time or changing habits. Bad breath related to gallbladder issues is usually described as smelling like sulfur or rotten eggs. In addition to the odor, you may also have a sour taste in your mouth that you can’t get rid of. The bad breath may be accompanied by a yellow-colored tongue. Generally, tongues covered in a light yellow film are harmless, but they can be indicative of gallbladder or liver issues caused by an accumulation of bile.

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Extremely Itchy Skin

Your skin is probably not the first play you’d look for signs of gallbladder issues. But a surprisingly common symptom of gallbladder issues is intense, uncontrollable itching. Although the exact cause of gallbladder-related itching is unknown, it’s likely to be at least partially due to a buildup of bile salts in the body. The itching associated with gallbladder disease is much more severe than what you experience with a bug bite. In many cases, the itching is so debilitating that it may require medication to get through the day. A majority of patients with gallstone-related jaundice reported severe, persistent itching. Gallstone blockage of the bile ducts has been associated with itchiness in the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet. Heat may make the itching worse, and some people report that the symptom is worse at night.


Dizziness and Lightheadedness

Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness are less common but real symptoms of serious gallbladder problems. People with severe gallbladder infections are most at risk for these symptoms. If the infection spreads from the gallbladder into the bloodstream, it can cause you to go into shock and become dizzy and disoriented. This is a serious, life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention. Although dizziness and lightheadedness aren’t common symptoms, they can also occur in people with other gallbladder diseases. For example, severe abdominal pain and nausea related to gallstones may cause temporary dizziness and fatigue. Nutritional deficiencies caused by a lack of bile and an inability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins can also cause these symptoms.

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Gallbladder Attacks Can Mimic Heart Attacks

A sudden gallbladder attack that causes severe upper abdominal pain may convince you that you have a heart attack. Both conditions cause sudden intense pain in the lower chest that may extend to the shoulder. Gallbladder attacks can also cause pressure in the center of the chest. Other symptoms that may occur during a heart or gallbladder attack are nausea, vomiting, severe heartburn, and dizziness. Although the symptoms are similar, gallbladder attacks are felt on the right side of the body, while heart attacks are felt on the left. Serious gallbladder issues can also cause a drop in blood pressure and elevated heartbeat. In addition to causing dizziness, gallbladder infections that spread into the blood can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, which leads to heart palpitations and rapid breathing.

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When To See a Doctor

Many signs of gallbladder disease can mimic other health conditions. Individually, symptoms like abdominal pain, a low-grade fever, occasional lightheadedness, or changes in bowel movements aren’t a cause for concern. But if you’re experiencing combinations of more than one of these and other symptoms listed above, it might be a good idea to see a doctor to determine if you have gallbladder disease. For example, if you experience the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Abdominal pain that lasts longer than a few hours, especially if the pain is severe or radiates from the upper right side of the abdomen.
  • Yellow skin or whites of the eyes
  • Pale, chalky poop or dark-colored urine
  • Nausea, vomiting, or an inability to keep food down, if accompanied by the symptoms above
  • Fever, chills, or sudden dizziness, if accompanied by the symptoms above

Diet Can Help Prevent Gallbladder Problems

Your diet can help you reduce your risk of developing gallbladder issues. A gallbladder-healthy diet is low in saturated fats that may trigger gallbladder attacks but includes healthy unsaturated fats. The diet is high in fiber, vitamin C, and calcium and low in sugar. Some specific elements of the gallbladder diet are:

  • Avoiding saturated fats, including those found in meat, cheese, and other animal products
  • Including monounsaturated fats found in most nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and some plant oils
  • Incorporating polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed
  • Eating fiber-rich foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, may help promote gallbladder health.
  • Reducing added sugar and processed foods, which are associated with a higher risk of developing gallstones.
  • Drinking coffee every day has been linked to a decreased risk of gallstones.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

Gallbladder Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

14 Gallbladder Attack Symptoms to Look Out For

Symptoms of a Gallbladder Problem

Gallbladder: Pain, Symptoms, Problems, and More

Gallstones and gallbladder disease Information

14 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Gallbladder Problem

7 Gallstone Symptoms You Need to Know About

Symptoms You May Not Realize Are Being Caused by Gallbladder Disease

What Are the Symptoms of a Gallbladder Attack