About 80% of people who have gallstones have no symptoms. These cases are called silent gallstones, which cause no problems and usually do not require treatment.
For those people who do have symptoms, gallstones often cause pain in the upper abdomen. The attack begins suddenly, often after a fatty meal and often during the night.
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Steady and sharp pain in the upper abdomen that increases rapidly and lasts from 30 minutes to several hoursPain in the back between the shoulder bladesPain under the right shoulderNausea and/or vomitingDiarrhea
Abdominal bloatingInability to tolerate fatty foodsColicBelchingGasIndigestionWorsening of heartburn
Contact your doctor
if you have the above symptoms and any of the following:
SweatingChillsLow-grade feverYellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyesClay-colored stoolsDark urine
Adler DG, Baron TH, et al. ASGE guideline: the role of ERCP in diseases of the biliary tract and the pancreas.
Ahmed A, Cheung RC, et al. Management of gallstones and their complications.
Am Fam Physician.
Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Cholesterol gallstone disease.
Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Gallstone disease: Symptoms and diagnosis of gallbladder stones.
Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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