About 80% of people who have gallstones have no symptoms. These cases are called silent gallstones, which cause no problems and usually 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.
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Typical Symptoms of an Attack
- 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
Contact your doctor right away if you have the above symptoms and any of the following:
- Low-grade fever
- Yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
Gallstones. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/gallstones. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114033/Gallstones. Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Gallstones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digesrive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones. Updated November 2013. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Portincasa P, Di Ciaula A, de Bari O, Garruti G, Palmieri VO, Wang DQ. Management of gallstones and its related complications. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;10(1):93-112.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 9/17/2014