3 Signs You Have Gallstones

May 7th 2016

Gallstones that don't cause severe pain rarely need any kind of treatment. Because gallstones are largely composed of cholesterol, sometimes following a low-cholesterol diet can minimize the chances of further problems. When gallstones result in severe, repeated or continuous pain, the gallbladder is often removed.


Gallstones often present with extreme pain in the upper-right portion of the abdomen. The pain typically comes on suddenly and gets worse very quickly. Pain can also occur in the center of the abdomen, the right shoulder and the upper back. For some people, the pain is dull and feels like cramps; others experience very sharp stabs of pain. Eating fatty or greasy foods can exacerbate the pain or bring it on in the first place. The pain can also feel worse when breathing in deeply. The pain may be brief, or it may continue for many hours. If the pain becomes so great that you can't find a comfortable position in which to sit, you should seek immediate medical help

Digestive Symptoms

The primary digestive symptoms that accompany gallstones are nausea and vomiting, though not all patients experience these. You may also experience heartburn or have a constant sense of feeling full. Indigestion, bloating and excess gas are also often present. Even if there is no overt pain, your upper-right abdomen may feel very tender to the touch. Stools may be unusually light in color, sometimes looking like clay. In addition, you may have a fever and experience chills.

Responding to Gallstones

If gallstones are asymptomatic, there is typically no reason for treatment. The lack of symptoms usually means that the gallstones aren't blocking the cystic duct. Severe pain caused by gallstones is always a reason to see your doctor. In addition, if you have a fever accompanied by abdominal pain, or if you experience jaundice, which is manifested by a yellowing of the whites of the eyes, you also should seek immediate medical attention.


Gallstones develop when bits of cholesterol and bile form small, hard, rock-like objects inside the gallbladder. While most people with gallstones are not even aware of them, they can cause intense pain and other symptoms. They are typically diagnosed when seen on an ultrasound or computed tomography scan, often when a doctor is actually looking for signs of a different condition. Those who do have symptomatic gallstones are most likely to experience extreme abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and other digestive symptoms.

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