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What Does Gallbladder Pain Feel Like During a Gallbladder Attack?

written by: Jack O. Rella • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/26/2010

What does gallbladder pain feel like? It is a severe pain in the upper abdomen, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, gas, diarrhea and fever.

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    Pain in the upper abdominal region can feel like indigestion or cramping and is easy to ignore. However, if the pain worsens and becomes very specifically local, it will become obvious that something is wrong. Abdominal pain can be difficult to identify without a physical examination. Pain in one region can generalize into other areas and the pain could even be traveling from the rib cage or the heart.

    Therefore, gallbladder distress is very often ignored until the pain becomes severe. Even once the individual realizes something is wrong, they may not be able to identify the problem. They need to ask their physician the following question: What does gallbladder pain feel like?

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    What are the Causes of Gallbladder Pain?

    Gallbladder pain is usually a symptom of gall stones. The gallbladder is responsible for taking bile from the liver and depositing it into the lower intestine. Diets full of fatty foods can cause sediment, of sorts, to remain in the gallbladder, which will develop into gallstones. Although very painful, most gall stones are not dangerous unless a blockage results before the gall stone is passed through the lower intestine and voided from the body. Rarely, an individual can experience gallbladder pain as a result of food intolerance. The pain will go away once the food is digested.

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    What Does Gallbladder Pain Fell Like?

    Gallbladder pain is a steady pain in the upper right region of the abdomen. It may start as a dull achy or cramping feeling then build to a severe pain, indicating that medical attention is needed. The pain is likely to radiate to the back and even into the chest. Passing gas, changing position and taking pain relievers do nothing to diminish the pain. Frequently, pain will become more severe with the drawing of a deep breath. The pain may last for only a short time and up to about three days then abate. However, the pain may return a few days later. Sometimes, an individual will experience gallbladder pain once and not have it return for years.

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    What Other Symptoms Accompany Gallbladder Pain?

    Once the question, "What does gallbladder pain feel like," is answered, the next important question is, "What other symptoms might accompany gallbladder pain?" Frequently, the individual will experience nausea and vomiting. Debilitating back pain can also be present. Many gallbladder pain sufferers experience excessive gas, bloating and diarrhea, especially after meals or after eating specific foods to which the patient may be sensitive. Fever and chills are common among many sufferers of gallbladder pain as well. If a gall stone becomes lodged and causes a blockage, additional symptoms will include rapid heart rate, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dark urine, light stool and jaundice. The severe pain, vomiting and fever will also be present.

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    Resources

    Mayo Clinic - Gallstone Symptoms

    Merck Manuals Online Medical Library - Cholecystitis

    MedLine Plus - Gallbladder Disease