What are the symptoms of gallbladder attack | Surgical clinic (2023)


Gallbladder attacks are one of the most painful gastrointestinal problems. These attacks occur when bile and minerals in the gallbladder form small deposits that look like stones or gallstones. As a result, the gallbladder tries to pass the stones through the bile ducts, and the stones tend to stick and cause mild to severe pain.

(Video) Gallbladder Attack Symptoms - LewisGale Hospital Alleghany

The gallbladder is a small, green, pear-shaped organ in the upper right abdomen near the ribs. It is about 4 inches long and is located under the liver. To facilitate digestion and break down fat, the gallbladder stores a yellowish liquid called bile.

Gallstones form when things in the bile, such as cholesterol, harden. Sometimes gallstones can block the bile duct and cause problems with the gallbladder.

(Video) Gallstones / Gallbladder Attack Symptoms & Treatment, Dr. Hadley Wesson

Note that some people can have small gallstones and pass them without an aggressive attack. However, when larger gallstones form, they cause gallbladder attacks. Learn more about the symptoms, treatments, and causes behind gallbladder attacks.


What are the symptoms of gallbladder attack | Surgical clinic (1)Typically, a gallbladder attack feels like a sharp, stabbing pain in the upper right or upper middle part of the abdomen that gets worse. The pain can last from twenty minutes to several hours. These attacks usually occur after eating foods high in fat or cholesterol. After a fatty meal, the body tries to release bile from the gallbladder for digestion, but it cannot because of the blockage of gallstones.

(Video) Biliary colic (gallbladder attack) - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Symptoms of a gallbladder attack usually include:

  • Pain that lasts several hours
  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Lighter colored chair
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark or brown urine
  • Jaundice or yellowish skin or white eyes

The earliest warning sign of a gallbladder problem is a sudden, sharp pain in the chest, back, or abdomen. Thethe pain can be occasional and mild or permanent and severe.

(Video) Do You Have Gallstone Pain?

In addition, the pain may worsen with deep breathing or eating, especially a fatty meal such as steak. Neither gassing nor poor relief relieves the pain.

If the pain is severe and does not subside after a few hours, consult a doctor. if you cannot tolerate the pain, go to the emergency room.

(Video) What is a gallbladder attack?

There are actually two subtypes of gallbladder disease that lead to attack-like symptoms. The first type is cholecystitis and the second is cholelithiasis.

(Video) Gallstones / Gallbladder Attack Symptoms & Treatment


What are the symptoms of gallbladder attack | Surgical clinic? ›

A gallbladder attack usually causes a sudden gnawing pain that gets worse. You may feel it in the upper right or center of your belly, in your back between your shoulder blades, or in your right shoulder. You might also vomit or have nausea. Pain usually lasts 20 minutes to an hour.

What are the symptoms of a gallbladder attack Mayo Clinic? ›

  • Severe pain in your upper right or center abdomen.
  • Pain that spreads to your right shoulder or back.
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it's touched.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
Sep 9, 2022

What does a gallbladder attack feel like symptoms? ›

A gallbladder attack usually causes a sudden gnawing pain that gets worse. You may feel it in the upper right or center of your belly, in your back between your shoulder blades, or in your right shoulder. You might also vomit or have nausea. Pain usually lasts 20 minutes to an hour.

What are the early warning signs of gallbladder problems? ›

  • Jaundice.
  • Dark urine, lighter stools or both.
  • Rapid heartbeat and abrupt blood pressure drop.
  • Fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, with severe pain in the upper right abdomen.

What can a doctor do for a gallbladder attack? ›

Surgery. You may need surgery if the pain doesn't ease up or if you have repeat attacks. Surgical treatments for a gallbladder attack are: Cholecystectomy.

At what point do you go to the ER for a gallbladder attack? ›

The most common gallstone symptom is severe abdominal pain in the upper right area of the stomach, which can spread to the shoulder or upper back. You may also vomit and feel nauseous. Seek emergency medical care if these symptoms last more than two hours or you have a fever.

Are there warning signs before gallbladder attack? ›

Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone. Back pain between your shoulder blades. Pain in your right shoulder. Nausea or vomiting.

What is the fastest way to relieve gallbladder pain? ›

For gallbladder health, a heated compress can calm spasms and relieve pressure from bile buildup. To relieve gallbladder pain, wet a towel with warm water and apply it to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use a heating pad or hot water bottle for the same effect.

What foods trigger gallbladder attacks? ›

Avoid high-fat foods, such as:
  • Chocolate, whole milk, ice cream, processed cheese, and egg yolks.
  • Fried, deep fried, or buttered foods.
  • Sausage, salami, and bacon.
  • Cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies, cookies, and other pastries.
  • Prepared snack foods, such as potato chips, nut and granola bars, and mixed nuts.

What feels like a gallbladder attack but isn t? ›

What are the symptoms of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction? The main symptom of SOD is severe stomach pain that comes and goes. The symptoms can feel similar to a gallbladder attack. You may have pain in your upper belly that seems to move, or spread, into your right shoulder.

How do doctors tell if your gallbladder is inflamed? ›

Tests you may have in hospital include: blood tests to check for signs of inflammation in your body. an ultrasound scan of your abdomen to check for gallstones or other signs of a problem with your gallbladder.

What are the five F's of gallbladder disease? ›

The five Fs were a mnemonic device that healthcare providers used in the past to memorize common risk factors for gallbladder disease. The five Fs were: fair, female, fat, fertile and 40. They were based on statistics, but they are controversial today because they add up to a kind of stereotype.

Can bloodwork detect gallbladder problems? ›

A health care professional may take a blood sample from you and send the sample to a lab to test. The blood test can show signs of infection or inflammation of the bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, or liver.

What can you take over the counter for gallbladder attack? ›

Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be options for people with mild and intermittent gallstone pain.

Can stress and anxiety cause gallbladder problems? ›

Chronic stress can result in repeated inhibition of bile release from the gallbladder, disrupting the entire biliary system. This can increase the bile's cholesterol concentration, leading to gallstones. Research shows diminished gallbladder emptying observed in patients with cholesterol gallstones.

How long is too long for a gallbladder attack? ›

Abdominal pain (biliary colic)

Gallstones can cause sudden, severe abdominal pain that usually lasts 1 to 5 hours, although it can sometimes last just a few minutes. The pain can be felt: in the centre of your abdomen (tummy)

Can Urgent Care treat gallbladder pain? ›

Gallbladder pain is can be relieved with over-the-counter medications or antibiotics. Portland Urgent Care treats common illnesses such as gallbladder pain and will provide proper evaluation and treatment.

Can emergency room do anything for gallbladder attack? ›

When a gallbladder attack occurs, it can land you in the emergency room. Because there is no medication to treat gallstones, surgical removal of the gallbladder may be your only treatment option. Laparoscopic surgery is the most common surgery used to remove a gallbladder.

What time of day do gallbladder attacks happen? ›

Gallbladder attacks tend to happen after heavy meals. They're more likely to happen in the evening or during the night. They stop when the gallstones move and are no longer lodged in the duct. If the duct remains blocked for more than a few hours, complications can occur.

Does drinking lots of water help gallbladder pain? ›

Drink Lots of Water

Water helps the organ empty and keeps bile from building up. This protects against gallstones and other problems.

What is the best drink for gallbladder pain? ›

Water is your best beverage option for its many health benefits and because it detoxifies impurities that impact your gallbladder. To avoid a trip to the hospital over the holidays, be sure to include plenty of fruits, fibrous vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and lean meats on the menu.

What position relieves gallbladder pain? ›

Gallbladder pain is relatively common and is usually caused by gallstones that block your bile duct. Resting or sleeping on your left side can help manage pain caused by gallstones if you have a clogged bile duct.

What causes a gallbladder to flare up? ›

When gallstones get stuck while traveling through the duct (tube) to the stomach, they block the outflow of bile, which causes the gallbladder to spasm. This usually leads to sharp pain, like being cut by a knife, under the rib cage in the upper right side or center of the abdomen.

Can drinking water remove gallstones? ›

Surgery is not the only way to deal with gallstones. These natural and easy ways will help you dissolve gallstones. Drinking enough water is one of the safest and hassle-free ways to dissolve gallstones without any possible side effects.

Is coffee bad for gallbladder? ›

Coffee consumption and gallstones

There is some evidence that coffee triggers the contraction of the gallbladder. It appears likely that caffeine is largely responsible for the effect of coffee, since consumption of decaffeinated coffee is not linked to a reduced risk of developing gallbladder disease in all studies.

Where is gallbladder pain felt in a woman's body? ›

The pain is usually felt in your upper right abdomen but can spread to your upper back or shoulder blade. Some people also experience pain in the center of their abdomen, just below their breastbone. This discomfort can last several minutes to a few hours.

What are the symptoms of gallstones in a woman? ›

Gallstones can cause sudden, severe abdominal pain that usually lasts 1 to 5 hours (although it can sometimes last just a few minutes). The pain can be felt: in the centre of your abdomen (tummy) just under the ribs on your right-hand side – it may spread from here to your side or shoulder blade.

What are the stages of gallbladder issues? ›

​​“It depends on which of the three clinical stages of gallbladder disease you are experiencing – asymptomatic, symp​tomatic or complicated.”

Will gallbladder pain come and go? ›

Most people experience gallbladder pain in waves, says Dr. Sandau. It can come and go, lasting for a few minutes to several hours and is often triggered by a fatty meal.

What is stage 4 gallbladder disease? ›

Stage IV. Stage IV is divided into stages IVA and IVB. In stage IVA, cancer has spread to the portal vein or hepatic artery or to two or more organs or structures other than the liver. Cancer may have spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes.

What is the quick test for gallbladder? ›

A HIDA scan is an imaging test that checks how your gallbladder is working. The gallbladder is a small sac under your liver. It stores bile, a fluid that helps your body digest fats. If there are problems with the gallbladder, such as gallstones, the gallbladder may not store or empty bile properly.

Is a CT scan of the gallbladder better than an ultrasound? ›

As such, ultrasound is the imaging modality of choice for initial assessment of suspected gallbladder pathology. CT however can be very effective at assessing extra-biliary gallstone pathology and complications arising from gallstone pancreatitis and cholecystitis [8, 10].

What is a physical exam of the gallbladder? ›

Gallbladder physical exam

Physical examination of the gallbladder is typically performed by inspection and palpation. Your physician will check your abdomen for any distension or prominent veins. If your skin is slightly yellowish, this will be noted as well.

What not to drink with gallbladder problems? ›

Soda. First, pizza — now soda? Yes, research shows people who drink a lot of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks also tend to have more gallbladder problems, including gallbladder cancer. Cutting sweet drinks could reduce symptoms as well as lower your risk for these problems.

Can gallstones make you tired and dizzy? ›

If a gallstone completely blocks the flow of bile to the gallbladder or small intestine, you may experience the following symptoms, in addition to pain: Nausea or loss of appetite. Fatigue. Weight loss.

What foods stress the gallbladder? ›

Foods that may trigger gallbladder attacks include:
  • Fatty foods.
  • Fried foods.
  • Dairy products.
  • Sugary foods.
  • Eggs.
  • Acidic foods.
  • Carbonated soft drinks.

Why am I so tired with gallstones? ›

Indications that you have low levels of fat-soluble vitamins — such as experiencing fatigue (low vitamin D) or bruising easily (low vitamin K) — serve as a warning sign that something may be amiss with your gallbladder.

How can you tell the difference between gallbladder and liver pain? ›

In more severe cases, gallbladder pain may cause nausea, vomiting, fever, or jaundice. On the other hand, upper abdominal or liver pain may feel more like a dull ache or pressure in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. It may also be accompanied by fatigue, weakness, or general discomfort.

How many days does a gallbladder attack last? ›

In most patients, a gallbladder attack will last one to four days and then subside. In rare severely affected patients, the gallbladder wall may rupture (perforate) or pus may build up within the gallbladder (empyema). In these patients, surgery may be necessary.

What drinks help with gallbladder pain? ›

For gallbladder pain relief, you can try applying a warm compress to the affected area. You may be able to drink peppermint tea to soothe the pain or take a magnesium supplement to help empty your gallbladder.

What foods heal the gallbladder? ›

Healthy Foods for the Gallbladder
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains (whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, bran cereal)
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
Feb 20, 2022

Do antacids help gallbladder pain? ›

Antacids cannot treat more serious problems, such as appendicitis, a stomach ulcer, gallstones, or bowel problems.

Does blood test show gallbladder problems? ›

A health care professional may take a blood sample from you and send the sample to a lab to test. The blood test can show signs of infection or inflammation of the bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, or liver.

Can vitamin D cause gallbladder problems? ›

Vitamin D plays an important role in regulation of bile salts and megalin thus preventing gallstones. Since an increase in Biliary Calcium was found during gallstone formation in various studies.


1. What is a gallbladder attack?
(Ascension Via Christi)
2. Emergency Gallstone Surgery: Do You Need It, Or Can You Afford to Wait?
(Mayo Clinic)
3. Emergency Gallstone Surgery: Do You Need It, Or Can You Afford to Wait?
(Mayo Clinic)
4. Gallbladder Attack | Warning signs you have Gallbladder Attack-Dr. Nanda Rajaneesh| Doctors' Circle
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
5. Do You Have Gallstone Pain?
(Cleveland Clinic)
6. What are the signs of a gallbladder attack? - Reston Hospital Center
(Reston Hospital Center)


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