8 Signs of a Gallbladder Attack

The gallbladder is a small sack just under the liver. A healthy gallbladder stores bile made by the liver. This bile is used during digestion to help break down fats. After a meal, the gallbladder squeezes out the bile it’s holding through tubes called ducts into the small intestine.

Sometimes substances in the bile will crystallize. These crystallized substances are called gallstones. Most gallstones are harmless, but they can cause pain, nausea, inflammation, and occasionally infection. Gallstones are a fairly common occurrence, and most will eventually make their way out of the body through the same ducts into the small intestine as non-crystallized bile substances.

When gallstones cause pain, it’s known as a gallbladder attack. Gallbladder attacks most often happen suddenly, lasting anywhere between a few minutes and several hours. The following list is offered to help you better understand the signs and symptoms of a gallbladder attack.

1. Abdominal Pain

When gallstones become stuck in a duct, they can cause sudden abdominal pain. The pain will most often occur in the upper right area of the abdomen right below the ribcage. Some people have had pain start right underneath the breast bone in the upper center area of the abdomen. The initial pain from a gallbladder attack may feel sharp, stabbing, dull, or cramping. The suddenness might take your breath away. The pain will feel steady in nature as opposed to coming in waves of lessening and surging. After the initial pain hits, it may radiate outward from the original pain point to other areas of the abdomen, sometimes to other areas of the body entirely. It can radiate lower until the pain rests in the middle of the abdomen near the belly button. A common complaint is after the initial pain hits, it radiates to the back between the shoulder blades.

In rare cases, it’s possible to experience a gallbladder attack without pain. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing gallbladder attacks, it’s important to contact your doctor for adequate diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your symptoms are caused by gallstones and offer a viable treatment plan.