How to Recognize Gallstone Pain

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017
Recognize Gallstone Pain

How to Recognize Gallstone Pain. Gallstones form in the gallbladder when bile hardens into a small rock-like substance. The gallbladder normally contracts and pushes the bile through the common bile duct and into the small intestine to help the body digest fats. When gallstones form, they may resist evacuation and stay in the gallbladder or obstruct the ducts, causing pain and other symptoms.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor. If you are experiencing chronic indigestion, accompanied by nausea, gas, bloating or abdominal pain that is worse after eating high fat foods, you may have gallstones. These can also be symptoms of other illnesses such as irritable bowel, peptic ulcer disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Determine the source of your pain. Gallbladder pain is usually a sudden, intense pain that lasts from 30 minutes to 2 hours. You'll feel it the middle or upper right of the abdomen. It may start in the front, and then go to the back or right shoulder blade area. Once the initial attack is over, there may be soreness in the upper abdomen that lasts from 24 to 48 hours. Gallbladder symptoms usually occur an hour or so after eating. However, they can happen at any time, even during sleep. If you've had one attack, you'll probably have more.

Check your temperature, if you are having typical gallbladder pain and symptoms. Gallstones trapped in the neck of the gallbladder can cause pain accompanied by fever that may continue for hours. This problem requires immediate medical attention.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of an obstructed bile duct. There will be fever, pain in the area of the blockage and jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Occasionally, small gallstones block the duct that leads to the pancreas. This can cause pancreatitis, an extremely serious condition that may be fatal if not treated.

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