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How to Recognize Symptoms of a Gallbladder Attack

A gallbladder attack can come on suddenly and may be quite painful. A gallbladder attack may be the result of gallstones or an infection. A gallbladder attack may be minor and the pain may subside after a few minutes, or it may be severe enough to require hospitalization. People are often unaware that they have gallstones since they have no symptoms until an attack occurs.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Take note of any pain occurring in the middle or the upper right part of your abdomen. Pain is the most obvious symptom. The pain may radiate to the back or shoulder. Chest pain may also be present. Observe whether the abdominal pain occurs or worsens after eating a meal. If present, does the chest or abdominal pain become worse when breathing deeply?

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Observe whether nausea or vomiting occur. These are common symptoms that often accompany a gallbladder infection or attack. Notice whether a fever is present. It is common for fever to accompany infection.

Observe whether there is abdominal bloating. There is often a feeling of fullness, particularly after eating even if you've only consumed a small portion of food. Notice whether heartburn is present. Heartburn is often associated with a gallbladder attack or infection and may occur mainly after eating a meal.

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Note whether the pain is associated with specific foods. Consuming certain foods, alcoholic beverages and caffeine can irritate an already inflamed gallbladder and help to bring on a gallbladder attack. It is important to pay attention to when the pain occurs so that your can provide your physician with accurate information regarding the pain you are experiencing.

If you are experiencing at least 2 of these symptoms or experiencing any sharp pain or shortness of breath, seek medical attention immediately.


Gallbladder attacks can last 15 minutes to 15 hours. Attacks often occur at night or after overeating. People may often suffer for years with gallbaldder attacks without knowing that their gallbladder is causing them.


If the pain is persistent and severe or you experience a fever, seek medical help immediately.