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What are the symptoms of gallstones?

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Updated June 18, 2014

Stomach ache
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Approximately 80% of individuals with gallstones do not have any symptoms of gallstones. They are said to have "silent" gallstones, because they do not suffer any pain.

For the other approximate 20% of individuals with gallstones, they can have intense pain, and this is often referred to as a "gallbladder attack." These gallbladder attacks will most often occur after a person eats a fatty meal, though they can occur at other times, such as during the night.

Symptoms of Gallstones

Symptoms of gallstones can include:
  • Pain in the upper abdomen that rapidly worsens and can last from a few minutes to several hours
  • Pain in the back between the shoulder blades
  • Pain under the right shoulder
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Intolerance of fatty foods
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn

If you have any of the above symptoms along with any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor right away:

  • Chills
  • Low-grade fever
  • Jaundice (yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Clay-colored stools

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For further information on gallstones:

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Sources:
"Common Gastrointestinal Problems - Gallstones." American College of Gastroenterology. 9 Sep 2008

"Gallstones." American College of Gastroenterology. 9 Sep 2008

"Gallstones." NIH Publication No. 07–2897 July 2007. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 9 Sep 2008

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