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