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What Are the Early Symptoms of Gallstones?

Ask What Are the Early Symptoms of Gallstones Related Articles

Ask a Doctor

I recently had a baby, and she’s my little bundle of joy. The problem is I’m recovering much slower than I’d like and I have some continuing health problems. Both my mother and grandmother had to have their gallbladders removed after giving birth to their first children, and I’m hoping I can nip any gallstone or other gallbladder problems in the bud if they arise. What are the early symptoms of gallstones?

Doctor’s Response

Most people with gallstones have no symptoms. In fact, they are usually unaware that they have gallstones unless symptoms occur. These "silent gallstones" usually require no treatment. If a person has an episode or recurring episodes of abdominal pain 30 minutes to one hour following meals, call a doctor for an appointment.

Go to a hospital emergency department if the person has this abdominal pain with any of the following conditions:

  • the abdominal pain cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication;
  • the person begins vomiting or develops a fever, chills, or sweats; or
  • the person has jaundice.

Symptoms usually occur as complications develop. The most common symptom is pain in the right upper part of the abdomen. Because the pain comes in episodes, it is often referred to as an "attack."

  • Attacks may occur every few days, weeks, or months; they may even be separated by years.
  • The pain usually starts within 30 minutes after a fatty or greasy meal.
  • The pain is usually severe, dull, and constant, and can last from one to five hours.
  • It may radiate to the right shoulder or back.
  • It occurs frequently at night and may awaken the person from sleep.
  • The pain may make the person want to move around to seek relief, but many patients prefer to lay still and wait for the attack to subside.

Other common symptoms of gallstones include the following:

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Reviewed on 10/11/2018
Sources: References