Indigestion and gallstones are two different gastrointestinal conditions that can cause abdominal discomfort after eating, especially after eating certain foods. It is easy to get these conditions confused with one another, because there are many similarities.
Whereas indigestion usually responds well to over-the-counter treatments, problems with the gallbladder – such as gallstones – require medical treatment. Let’s talk about some of the main differences and similarities between indigestion and gallstones, and about where you can go for medical intervention for your digestive issues.
What Are the Signs of Indigestion?
Also called dyspepsia, indigestion causes discomfort in the upper part of your abdomen, especially after overeating foods that are fatty and greasy. Because stress and anxiety can result in an upset stomach, indigestion can also be triggered by psychological causes. Other possible causes include smoking, alcohol consumption, and medication.
Indigestion can affect people of all ages. Eating slowly and opting for healthier food options may help you avoid indigestion.
If you have recurring indigestion, a gastroenterologist can evaluate and diagnose the condition and provide treatment if necessary. Some of the more severe causes of indigestion include ulcers, pancreatitis, or cancer.
How Gallstones Are Different
A common problem with the gallbladder is the development of gallstones. The gallbladder stores bile, which is produced by the liver and is then transferred to the small intestine to digest food. Bile contains cholesterol, and gallstones can form if the body fails to break down bile.
Gallstones can cause blockages, and they may even lead to an infection. Having gallstones is therefore a serious medical condition. Gallstones can cause fever, chills, and pain which may radiate to the back and shoulder.
Gallstones may pass on their own, but there is a risk of the symptoms getting worse and complications such as an infection. A gastroenterologist can diagnose and treat gallstones effectively.
How They Are Similar
It’s easy to confuse gallstones for indigestion, since the gallbladder and the stomach are both located in the upper abdomen. Plus, the physical discomfort and pain they create are equally similar.
Pain from indigestion and gallstones can occur after eating a heavy and greasy meal. However, with gallstones, there is a slight delay of an hour before symptoms develop. Taking over-the-counter medication to relieve symptoms will not work with gallstones. However, gallbladder attacks can also cause indigestion.
Note that people who are obese are at a high risk of developing gallstones.
Gastroenterologists in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH
If you are regularly experiencing abdominal discomfort, see one of our board-certified gastroenterologists here at North Shore Gastroenterology. We can quickly diagnose your condition and prescribe a treatment plan that will ease your symptoms.
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with an experienced gastroenterologist, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (440) 808-1212 or fill out our online request form. We look forward to taking care of your digestive issues once and for all!