Hartford Hospital

Conditions In Depth

Search for

About 80% of people who have gallstones have no symptoms. These cases are called “silent gallstones,” which cause no problems and do not require treatment.

For those people who do have symptoms, gallstones often cause pain in the upper abdomen. The “attack” begins suddenly, often after a fatty meal and often during the night.

The Gallbladder

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Steady and sharp pain in the upper abdomen that increases rapidly and lasts from 30 minutes to several hours
  • Pain in the back between the shoulder blades
  • Pain under the right shoulder
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Recurring intolerance of fatty foods
  • Colic
  • Belching
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Worsening of heartburn
  • Abdominal pain after a fatty meal

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have the above symptoms and any of the following:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Low-grade fever
  • Yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes
  • Clay-colored stools
References:

Adler DG, Baron TH, et al. ASGE guideline: the role of ERCP in diseases of the biliary tract and the pancreas. Gastrointest Endosc. 2005;62:1-8.

Ahmed A, Cheung RC, et al. Management of gallstones and their complications. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:1673-1678.

American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: www.acg.gi.org.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov.

Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Cholesterol gallstone disease. Lancet. 2006;368:230-239.

Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Gallstone disease: Symptoms and diagnosis of gallbladder stones. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2006;20:1017-1029.

Last reviewed October 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.