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15 Symptoms of a Gallbladder Attack

Abdominal Pain

A gallstone issue will normally cause dull, sharp, or cramping pain in the abdomen that starts suddenly and starts to peak. It can even feel like a sort of indigestion attack.

Back or Right Shoulder Pain

Pain from a gallbladder attack is most often felt in the abdomen; however, it can also be felt in the back or right shoulder, often leading unsuspecting patients to believe they are having a heart attack.

Pain After Meals

This is one of the clearest signs that you may be having a gallbladder attack of some kind. This is usually a steady pain and can happen most especially after a high-fat or high calorie meal.

Nausea and/or Vomiting

Any of the gallbladder conditions mentioned above can cause nausea and/or vomiting. The severity of the pain from the attack, alone, can be a factor, or it can be caused by the blocked bile.

Fever and Chills

Fever during a gallbladder attack may be a sign of cholecystitis which, as mentioned before, is an infection caused by a gallstone blocking the tube that leads out of the gallbladder.

Change in the Color of Urine

People experiencing a gallbladder attack may notice a darker colored urine. This is caused by and signals bile duct blockage.

Yellow Skin and/or Eyes

Jaundice usually signals an underlying issue in adults, which, in this case would be a gallbladder attack.

Clay-Colored Stools

Change in the color of your stool to clay could mean that there is some type of obstruction to the bile duct. This is usually associated with pain in the right side of the abdomen.

Heart Palpitations

Usually accompanied by rapid breathing and confusion, heart palpitations can be a major sign that something is wrong. These symptoms usually signal that the body is experiencing shock or that there may be an infection in your blood.

Chest Pain

Gallbladder attacks can bring a feeling of fullness or pain in the right lower chest or the right upper abdomen, especially after a fatty meal.


When the bile duct is blocked or inflamed it can cause continuous burping accompanied by intermittent pain in the upper back and/or right side of the abdomen that can last for up to several hours.


Regurgitation—also known as bile reflux—is what happens when bile backs up into your stomach and into the esophagus and throat. This is usually a symptom of chronic gallbladder disease.


Gallbladder sludge is a collection of different compounds that build up in the gallbladder and can block the bile ducts that allow the gallbladder to drain. This can cause bile to become trapped in the gallbladder, causing bloating.


A much rarer symptom of gallbladder attacks, this occurs most commonly with a condition called primary sclerosis cholangitis. This is an inflammatory disease of both the gallbladder and the liver. Itching is also an additional symptom of jaundice.


The pancreas and the gallbladder share a bile drainage duct that can become blocked by gallstones, preventing the flow of pancreatic enzymes causing the pancreas to become inflamed. If you should be diagnosed with pancreatitis, chances are your physician will also check your gallbladder for additional diagnosis.