Gallbladder Attack: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

The symptoms of gallbladder attack result most commonly due to the presence of gallstones. Less common causes include tumors of the bile duct or gallbladder or certain illnesses. With blockage to the flow of bile, the bile accumulates in the gallbladder, causing an increase in pressure that can sometimes lead to rupture. Symptoms of a gallbladder attack include pain in the upper right side or middle of the abdomen. The pain may be dull, sharp, or cramping. The pain typically starts suddenly. It is steady and may spread to the back or the area below the right shoulder blade. Having steady pain particularly after meals is a common symptom of gallbladder stones. Movement does not make the pain worsen.

A complication of gallstones is inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis). Symptoms that can accompany acute cholecystitis are fever, nausea, vomiting, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin).

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2018
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