For gallstones, what were the symptoms and signs you experienced? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: amc723, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

My freshman year of college, I started to experience minor pains in my upper abdomen, under my ribs. I usually would just take tums, and try to fall asleep (it would happen at night). One night when I was home for Christmas break (January), the pain was bad enough to go to the emergency room (ER). The pain lasted until around 5 am, they gave me a 'GI (gastrointestinal) cocktail' and sent me on my way. I was prescribed omeprazole (Prilosec) to take once a day. I would get the same pain every once and a while that would radiate to my back. These pains started to get more severe and more frequent around late November, then started to happen pretty much every day. Finally, in January, (last month) I was referred to a GI doctor after going to the ER on Christmas day for horrible abdominal pain. They did an ultrasound and I was finally diagnosed with gallstones! My surgery is this month and hopefully it goes well. But seriously, if you have pain in your upper abdomen, it radiates to your shoulder blades, and you cannot eat anything fatty or unhealthy, do not just assume it is heartburn or indigestion! Get an ultrasound. I know how much gallstones can take a toll on someone; not being able to go eat pizza with your friends, losing sleep every night because of the pain, it is horrible!

Comment from: Cosmogirl, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I had been going to the emergency room (ER) for about 3 years with very sharp pains, throwing up and almost feeling like I was dying. Every time the ER would give me pain medications and send me on my way. I had one not even a week ago and now after getting the dye put into my stomach I found out I have gallstones and also my gallbladder does not even work anymore. Luckily I get surgery next week.

Comment from: kl1234, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 01

I am getting my gall bladder ultrasound tomorrow. I have been having episodes of throwing up bile once a month for 10 months.

Comment from: Sally, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

I have had about 6 really bad episodes of waking up in the middle of the night with terrible heartburn, so bad that I end up throwing up. The pain is all through my chest and back area and unbearable at times. I too have started using a heating pad on my back and that seems to help some. I have an appointment in several days and will make sure my doctor tests for gallstones.

Comment from: lhelmick, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 01

When I was pregnant with my first child, I started having severe pain in my upper right abdomen. I mentioned in to my doctor and she said that it was probably indigestion. I had an "attack" about every two weeks during my pregnancy. The pain would wake me in the middle of the night. I would feel as if I needed to go to the bathroom or vomit. The attacks usually lasted anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours and usually involved me vomiting to get any pain relief. After I had my daughter, I didn't have any problems for about two months. Then all of a sudden, they came back, at least one a week. I soon found out that I was pregnant again. So again I chalked it up to severe indigestion and started watching my diet. Over time, I realized and was able to eliminate certain foods that caused me problems: milk, hot dogs (processed foods), soda, chocolate, peanut butter, and many others. I mentioned it to my doctor again and asked her why those foods would be causing indigestion. She said that I may have gallbladder issues. After I had my son, again, all the pain went away for about six weeks. Then it all came back again. I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound performed, and they confirmed that I have gallstones. I was referred to a surgeon.

Comment from: Anonymous , 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

I experienced pain in my upper right rib area and figured it was gall bladder pain. It was the middle of the night so I got up and looked in my cupboard. I saw I had dandelion root tea and lemon juice, mixed the 2 together and it worked like a charm; wow, within 5 minutes I had instant relief. I also had the infrared sauna so went in there for 10 minutes and also had immediate relief. A must try dandelion root tea with lemon juice, it really works. And if you don't have infrared heating pad a regular one is fine too. Place where pain is and lie on your right side. It helps with bile flow. Good luck!

Comment from: Britt, Female (Patient) Published: November 10

Apple cider vinegar and 100 percent apple juice took my gallbladder pain away within 15 minutes. I took 4 big drinks of vinegar and chased it with apple juice. Nothing has worked before, and I'm relieved I have finally found something that will work quickly.

Published: August 27

Looking backwards from surgery date to symptoms, I had jaundice, uncontrollable itching, nausea, chest pain (that felt like someone took a belt and cinched it under my breasts as tight as they could), abdominal pain from under my breasts down to my lower abdomen, back pain from under my shoulder blades to my spine and then other times I would feel perfectly normal. Of all the symptoms, the only one that seemed to be consistent was the itching.

Published: August 27

The first episode began gradually with a burning pain and a lot of pressure just beneath my ribs on the right side, straight down from my breast. The pain and pressure got worse over the course of an hour until I could hardly move or take a deep breath. When I tried to manipulate the area (thinking it must be trapped gas) I could feel a hardening and enlarging of (what I now know was) my gallbladder. After a couple of hours, the pain slowly subsided. The second episode began the same way, same spot, but this time it radiated to my back. I tried to burp, thinking it would relieve the horrible pain, and I immediately and violently vomited until my throat bled. Two days later, an ultrasound showed two small gallstones.

Comment from: Issabella, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I am 36 years old. I am suffering from gall stones and thyroidism. It is frustrating, especially with the symptoms. I am not sure if I should have my gall bladder removed because some people say they have more problems after their surgeries. I have pain quite often. Of course, at times it's worse than others. I am really at a point where I don't know what to do.

Comment from: 1sttimeundertheknife, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 06

I am 49, female. I have been suffering from heartburn, and chronic neck pain for years (disc disease). This past year I have gone to the ER twice for long drawn-out chest pain. After cardiologist cleared me, I called the dr. and said I know my heart is not the problem but please do something about this chest pain, often lasting hours, noticeably after eating. Sonogram showed 2.5cm sludge in my gall bladder. After my surgery, actual stones were discovered and there was inflammation from blockage.

Comment from: bluegirl, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 22

This article is very informative, as are the comments from patients. I have suspected I may have gallbladder issues for some time now but never could find a clear description of the symptoms. I am quite sure now. I was always afraid of the possibility of having my gallbladder removed. I know now that I was misinformed and it will not be as bad as I thought if it turns out that is what I need. I'm still not looking forward to it. But I guess it's better than the alternative.

Comment from: Jesus A., 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 16

I have had gallstone for more than a year and a half going to the ER, but they just gave me medicine, but it didn't help. I had stomach pain, vomiting and fainting. I couldn't breathe and I had this really awful pain, but I'm finally getting surgery. Thanks! Jesus A.

Comment from: cactusbob, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: February 16

I have no symptoms, but my doctor, in investigating the cause of my tiredness, found liver functions elevated. They had been normal for many years. He had me have an ultrasound and multiple small gallstones were found. He believed that the stones may be interfering with proper flow and affecting the liver. He has to rule out the gall bladder by removal before proceeding further. I am planning to have surgery before it becomes an emergency, although after three abdominal surgeries I'm not looking forward to it.

Comment from: danny, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 10

I suffered from gallbladder attacks for the past 9 months. I went for two different ultrasounds and neither showed signs of gallstones. After a severe attack, I finally went for a HIDA scan and it was determined that my gallbladder was functioning at 24%, 11% lower than acceptable. After surgery my symptoms disappeared immediately! I have had no further issues and can once again enjoy eating things other than rice and bread!!! After surgery they found an 8mm stone and evidence of chronic cholecystitis. I'm wondering how two different ultrasound scans miss an 8mm stone. I was told that stones that size stand out in an ultrasound. This one didn't. I kind of wish they had saved it to see what makeup kept it hidden from the ultra sound.

Comment from: gallstoner, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: February 10

Symptoms I experienced were extreme dull pain in abdomen area 30 minutes to 1 hour after eating a meal usually stronger pain if greasy or fatty meal. I also had back pain between the shoulder blades, indigestion, and pressure in the chest I think due to bloat in abdomen area. Hope this helps someone.

Comment from: Krissy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 08

I often would have heartburn that would wake me up during the night and antacids always helped. The next symptom I started getting was that I'd again awake in the middle of the night with the feeling my entire mid section from below the breast to waist in front & from shoulder blades down entire back area were "cinched tight" as if I'd really pulled something in my back. It was difficult to even draw a deep breath and unrelenting. I had very random attacks like this one, maybe 4 times over 4 yrs. I always thought it was a pulled back or overuse. After going to the ER the last time it happened because the pain wouldn't let up no matter what I tried, I was told I had many gallstones after a CAT scan and surgery was necessary. They did it that day & I am soooo happy it's gone!!! The recovery was very quick and next to no pain after so please don't be afraid to have the procedure done.

Comment from: ktopf, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 26

I had severe pain right under my rib cage on the right side, also a burning sensation. It was constant. The only thing that helped was holding a heating pad on it. One day it was so severe I went to the ER, they told me I had a stomach ulcer. No medication helped at all. Two years later I went to another doctor who did an ultrasound and confirmed I have multiple gallstones. I will have my gallbladder removed in two weeks.

Comment from: Amelia, Published: January 20

The gallstones may cause pain when the stones react to fatty meal. This pain can be said as attack which occurs every few weeks, days, or months. The pain is usually severe, dull, and constant & can last from one to five hours. The removals of the stones are temporary. The gallstones can be prevented by low fat, low-cholesterol diet.

Comment from: lilmessedup, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 19

My pain started a year ago. I thought it was heartburn at first and it has progressively gotten worse. Heartburn meds did not help. I would wake up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain in my abdomen and into my back. It would hurt so bad I would cry and pray for the pain to stop. The pain initially lasted a couple hours and progressively got worse. My recent episode lasted 3 days. I saw a doctor several weeks ago and I have an ulcer as well as gallstones. Not a good thing. I will soon see the surgeon about taking the gallbladder out. The only things that got me through the pain were a hot pad on my stomach and a tens unit on my back. I am looking forward to feeling myself soon.

Comment from: Holsa, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 15

Whenever I am having a gallstone attack, I have sharp stabbing pains on the right side of my rib cage and also have pain in breathing. Some mornings I wake up and it feels like I have taken a beating all night. There is also pain and discomfort under my right shoulder blade and back. I try to limit the movements of my right arm when the pain is severe. When the pains are not sharp and stabbing, I experience a steady ache and there isn't much I can do to get comfortable. My attacks usually last at least two hours and a few times have lasted a couple of days. The attacks make it hard to function at work sometimes and make me miserable. They wear me out. I also experience lots of burping and nausea when under attack. Sometimes I feel very bloated and have a heavy full feeling in my abdomen. It is exhausting and draining going through the cycles of the attacks.

Comment from: Johnathan, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 05

I have had pain in the upper and right abdomen during various episodes over the last 3 years. After researching keywords: gall bladder diet on the Internet, I found a non-medical treatment involving a solution of Epsom salts and water to induce a flush of the intestines, and drinking a mixture of olive oil and grapefruit juice followed by a period of sleep. I've used this when symptoms became severe, such as abdominal pain and nausea. The treatment has been successful, and has not needed the removal of the gall bladder. This procedure should be considered with medical advice due to unforeseen side effects involving the Epsom salts causing possible changes in mineral levels in the body. I hope this advice will give hope to those needing a non-surgical treatment.

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 04

I discovered a pain in my stomach and I was vomiting a lot. I couldn't stand the smell of food and all I could do was sleep on the floor on my tummy to ease the pain. I went to the doctor and he said it might be gall stone. He suggested that I go for an ultrasound. I haven't gone yet, but with the medications he gave me, the pain just comes every now and then.

Comment from: cassie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 16

I suffered excruciating and sudden pain in my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. I was admitted to the hospital, where I was found to be fit and I was sent home. I had another attack after eating one day, and I was admitted again, where they did a scan and found the gallstones. I had surgery the next day, which gave me instant relief, but two years down the track, I still have some minor aches. Previously, I did suffer with occasional indigestion.

Comment from: Dorothy, 45-54 Female Published: December 09

My name is Dorothy, just diagnosed with stones in gallbladder. I have had two attacks thus far that were really unpleasant; with upper abdomen pains radiating to the back from the neck down to both shoulder blades always at night. Both times I received medication and after vomiting got some relief. Doctors say I need go for a surgery, but am currently taking water therapy to see if that can reduce the size of the stones and eventually flush them out.

Comment from: inmygarden, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 07

I am a 54 year old Caucasian woman who has had 6 pregnancies. I am also a little overweight and recently went on a diet. My symptoms started just below the breast bone and radiated to the back between my shoulder blades. I thought I was having a heart attack and went to the emergency room. They did chest X-ray and all the blood tests and told me that my heart didn't seem to be the problem but my liver enzymes were elevated. No one mentioned the possibility of gallstones. I followed up with my doctor who tested for all the hepatitis... all negative. Almost 3 weeks after the first episode I suffered another. Both episodes each lasted about 4 hours and came on at night. I did a search on the internet for "pain between shoulder blades" and found out that this is a classic symptom of gallstones. I called my doctor and he ordered an ultrasound... sure enough... lots of gallstones. Now I'm scheduled for surgery in a couple of days.

Comment from: Kristen, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I just had my gall bladder removed about a week and a half ago, after having to be admitted to the hospital for acute pancreatitis. I had seven gallstones which apparently ended up blocking my pancreatic duct. I cannot say that I had jaundice or itching, but I definitely felt the pain in my lower rib cage/abdomen. For those of you that feel the pain in the center, you may want to get an ultrasound, because pancreatitis is life-threatening. I know, I spent 9 days in ICU. But now that the gall bladder is gone, I feel like I have a new lease on life.

Published: October 06

I had one gall stone attack about one year before I became pregnant and when I went to hospital that evening I was advised I had trapped wind and to go home. I severely suffered that night with no sleep! I then became pregnant and experienced no attacks at all, but about 3 weeks after giving birth I suffered the worst attack ever it was after eating Chinese! I took medication, but nothing helped. I was awake all night and suffered it out. I could not stay still just had to keep moving the whole time, holding a water bottle to give a tiny bit of ease! These attacks then came every 2nd night. I had even starved myself just eating tea and biscuits as any food brought on an attack. By this stage I had been for an ultrasound where gallstones were confirmed. Every 2nd night I was getting injections of tramadol to relieve the pain. Eventually I was prescribed Tramadol and it was the best pain relief and the only thing that took my pain away when suffering an attack. I met then with the consultant who advised me I should really be on a waiting list but due to the extent of my attacks every 2nd night, he would operate asap. Eventually 2 weeks later and loads more suffering, I finally went in to get my gall bladder removed. I was very sore after with 4 incisions and staples on my stomach but at least I could eat again! When I got out of hospital I had a steak and garlic potatoes as I was soooo looking forward to it!

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I had my gallbladder removed in June of 2009 after having continuous heartburn for years which was attributed to gastric reflux and took many antacids which seemed to relieve the heartburn somewhat. I also had a dull continuous ache in my upper right abdomen just under the ribcage. At night it felt like I was laying on a deck of cards. I was unable to eat greasy spicey foods. After having golfball size gallstone and gallbladder removed, I have not used any antacids and have no pain.

Comment from: MrMAS, 25-34 Male Published: December 31

My pain started about 9:30 on a Sunday night. My back started to ache, but I didn't think anything of it since I get back pains constantly. By 10:00pm I felt the pain around my rib cage. I thought that it would go away but by 11:00pm I had all that I could handle. My wife took me to the hospital. I had never been taken to the hospital for anything....5+ car accidents, being kicked by horses and stepped on by cattle. This was the worst pain I had ever felt. It just wouldn't go away. At the hospital they told me I had gallstones and needed surgery. After a couple of morphine doses the pain started to subside at 7:00 Monday morning. It is now Wednesday night and I can still feel soreness below my rib cage. I have an appointment with a surgeon on Monday.

Patient Comments & Reviews

Medically reviewed by a John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE: Cholelithiasis.

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