Doctors may not be surprised when patients arrive at the ER during the holiday season complaining of chest pain, pain specific to the upper right side of the abdomen, or even pain that extends to their back and shoulders.

If suspicions are correct, this is known as a gallbladder attack – and the number of reported cases tends to rise every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Often, this is due to the overindulging that seems to be typical of holiday festivities. Rich, fatty foods – the ones that many of us look forward to year-round – can aggravate existing gallbladder issues.

When it comes to treatment of gallbladder problems, there is a medication that may dissolve gallstones. Unfortunately, it is often ineffective, resulting in recurrent attacks.

The gold standard surgical treatment is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or removing the gallbladder using a few small incisions. Over the past decade, robotic surgery with the advantages of 3D vision and improved mechanics, have been used increasingly in gallbladder removals.

For uncomplicated cases, patients are discharged the same day as the surgery.

Mark Cavaretta, MD

Bariatric, Gastrointestinal, and General Surgeon, Trinity Bariatric Surgery

The Link Between Holiday Food and Gallbladder Symptoms

Your gallbladder is a sac that stores the bile made by the liver. Gallstones can form and cause uncomfortable symptoms when they block that bile from exiting the liver. In addition to the abdominal pain already mentioned, fever, nausea, or vomiting can also accompany a gallbladder attack.

Gallstones themselves are asymptomatic – symptoms occur when gallstones cause a blockage. Fatty foods can cause the gallbladder to contract more in an effort to release bile.

As you may have guessed, homemade holiday treats tend to be fattier than the food we might consume in our everyday routine. A lot of the time, holiday food is made richer with added butter or cream.

How to Limit Gallbladder Symptoms This Holiday Season

Looking to keep gallbladder symptoms at bay? Try the following this year when you’re celebrating the holidays:

  • Practice portion-control with rich foods
  • Avoid store-bought starches, like white bread and sweet treats
  • Pass on alcoholic or sugary beverages

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of a gallbladder attack, it’s very important not to ignore the problem and seek medical attention. Contact your physician or someone from our general surgery team right away to determine the best treatment for your condition. In the event that you are experiencing extreme pain and discomfort, head to the emergency room.

Find a General Surgeon Near You
Call (716) 706-2112

Find a General Surgeon Near You
Call (716) 706-2112