Most people who have gallstones do not have symptoms. If you have symptoms, you most likely will have mild pain in the pit of your stomach or in the upper right part of your belly. Pain may spread to your right upper back or shoulder blade area. Sometimes the pain is more severe. It may be steady, or it may come and go. Or it may get worse when you eat. When gallstones keep blocking a bile duct, you may have pain with fever and chills. Or your skin or the whites of your eyes may turn yellow. Call your doctor right away.
Gallbladder attacks can be both very painful and frightening. It is easy to understand why so many people opt for gallbladder surgery after experiencing even one gallbladder attack. The following symptoms are typical of a gallbladder attack:
Pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right side
Pain between shoulder blades
Stools light or chalky colored
Indigestion after eating, especially fatty or greasy foods
Burping or belching
Feeling of fullness or food not digesting
Diarrhea (or alternating from soft to watery)
Headache over eyes, especially right
Bitter fluid comes up after eating
Frequent use of laxatives
In a small number of cases, gallstones can become trapped in a duct (an opening or channel), irritate and inflame the gallbladder, or move out of the gallbladder and into other parts of the body.
This can lead to a range of symptoms, such as:
a sudden intense pain in your abdomen
feeling and being sick jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
There are several non-surgical ways to break down gallstones, but they are only effective in around less than 1 in 10 cases and are rarely a viable option.
For most people with painful gallstones it is recommended that their gallbladder is removed.