Symptoms and Signs of Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2021

Doctor's Notes on Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation)

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. The signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include the following:

  • Upper-right abdominal pain (most common symptom)
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain may radiate to the right shoulder or scapula.
  • Pain may be intermittent but usually becomes constant once inflammation begins.
  • Pain may begin in the epigastric area and localizes in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Right upper quadrant tenderness and possible palpable, enlarged gallbladder
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin) if the duct from the liver and gallbladder entering the intestine is blocked
  • The elderly and children may not have the usual symptoms.

The following are causes of cholecystitis:

  • Gallstones that block (obstruct) the cystic duct
  • Bile duct scarring or narrowing
  • Bile duct obstructing tumors
  • Trauma to the gallbladder or the bile duct
  • Gallbladder infections

What Is the Treatment for Cholecystitis?

Treatment depends on the type of cholecystitis and/or the severity of complications. For example, doctors may treat patients with uncomplicated cholecystitis as an outpatient. Patients with complicated cholecystitis usually require a surgical intervention like a percutaneous drain or a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) or lithotripsy (fragmentation and extraction of gallstones). Some individuals need antibiotics.

There are at least 20 home remedies listed on the internet. They include apple cider, pear juice, peppermint, turmeric, honey, olive oil, lecithin and many others. Patients should discuss with their doctor about the use of such remedies before using them; there are no remedies for complicated cholecystitis.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.