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What are the Symptoms of Gallstones?

Do your symptoms match those caused by gallstones?

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Updated June 19, 2014

When the symptoms of gallstones occur they are often called an "attack" because they occur suddenly. The typical gallstone attack includes:
  • Steady, severe pain in the upper abdomen that increases rapidly and lasts from 30 minutes to several hours.
  • Pain in the back between the shoulder blades.
  • Pain under the right shoulder.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

Gallstone attacks often follow fatty meals, and they may occur during the night. Although I was lucky not to have too much nausea and vomiting with my gallstones, one of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother up at night, in the bathroom, vomiting.

Other symptoms of gallstones include:

  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Recurring intolerance of fatty foods.
  • Colic.
  • Belching.
  • Gas.
  • Indigestion.

The following symptoms are indication that you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Sweating.
  • Chills.
  • Low-grade fever.
  • Yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes.
  • Clay-colored stools.

Many people have gallstones with no symptoms, these people are called asymptomatic. Gallstones that cause no symptoms are called "silent stones." Silent stones do not interfere in gallbladder, liver, or pancreas function and do not require treatment.

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