Gallbladder Pain - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms associated with gallbladder pain?

Gallbladder pain may vary; many people with gallstones never experience pain. However, there are some variations in gallbladder pain that help the doctor to make a diagnosis.

  • Biliary colic (intermittent duct blockage): Sudden and rapidly increasing pain (ache or pressure) in the right upper abdomen or epigastric area; some people will have pain radiating to the right shoulder and/or also develop nausea and vomiting. The pain usually subsides in about 1 to 5 hours although a mild ache may persist for about a day.
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of gallbladder tissue secondary to duct blockage): severe steady pain in the right upper abdomen that may radiate to the right shoulder or back, abdominal tenderness when touched or pressed, sweating, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and bloating; discomfort lasts longer than with biliary colic.
  • Acalculous cholecystitis (no gallstones) has similar symptoms to cholecystitis but occurs as a complication of other problems like trauma or burns; patients have severe symptoms and appear very ill.
  • Pancreatitis: Gallstones from the gallbladder can block the pancreatic duct and cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) with upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back, tender abdomen, more pain after eating, with nausea and vomiting.
  • Ascending cholangitis (or simply cholangitis or infection of the biliary system) causes fever, abdominal pain, jaundice and even hypotension (low blood pressure), and confusion; it is a medical emergency.
Return to Gallbladder Pain (Gall Bladder Pain)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Springfield Patient, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I had severe upper abdominal (solar plexus) pain which caused sweats and short breathing, and nausea with dry heaves. I went to the emergency room and after 1 hour, they said gall bladder was enlarged with stones. After removal surgeon told me the bladder was black and had gangrene. Very little warning, don't fool around with this!

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Comment from: Julie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 09

When I have a gall bladder attack it lasts days. I have immediate pain from my esophagus when I eat anything and I mean anything. Then above my belly button, then through to my back and then down my arms. It's horrible and I can't wait to have an MRI scan to differentiate between polyps or stones. A blockage is suspected as I had high amylase and lipase levels when I could stand the pain no longer and ended up in Accident and Emergency. They diagnosed that it must be my ovarian cysts which the gastroenterologist couldn't understand especially due to blood test results! Hopefully it will get sorted now as I can't eat at all without extreme pain and have pain if I don't eat. Sigh.

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