What Are The Symptoms Of A Gallbladder Attack?

A gallbladder attack seems to happen when gallstones block the bile duct. This may stop bile from flowing out of the duct. The gallbladder seems to spasm during an attack and may trigger severe pain. One-third of gallstone patients may deal with gallbladder attacks. They should consider going to the emergency room for immediate treatment. They may need abdominal ultrasounds, blood tests, a CT scan, and a HIDA scan, among other tests, to diagnose their condition.

Pain and nausea medication at the hospital may help keep patients comfortable. Some patients may get medication for gallstones as well, which may dissolve small ones. The goal is gallbladder pain relief. Thankfully, gallbladder attack treatment may help quite significantly. However, gallbladder removal may be needed as a treatment for repeated gallbladder attacks. 

Persistent Abdominal Pain 

Many individuals seem to deal with persistent abdominal pain as a warning sign of a gallbladder attack. This pain may also be quite intense. Patients appear to feel the pain in their upper right abdomen. However, it may be felt high up in the abdomen's center as well. Some patients seem to find that their pain moves to the space between their shoulder blades or their right shoulder. This may happen as the gallbladder attack progresses. Individuals appear to describe this gallbladder attack pain as sharp and stabbing. It seems to start suddenly and may last for quite a few hours. Some patients appear to have trouble sitting still because of the pain.

Pain from a gallbladder attack does not seem to change or worsen when an individual moves. Individuals may need strong pain medication at the hospital to help get rid of some pain. However, they may need to take pain relievers for a few days when they return home.

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Fever And Chills 

Some individuals may have a low-grade fever as a symptom of a gallbladder attack. This seems to refer to a body temperature of between 100.4 and 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears that chills may occur as well. If patients deal with both fever and chills, they may also have a bacterial infection in their gallbladder. A high fever seems to indicate gallbladder inflammation. An inflamed gallbladder appears to be a possible complication of gallbladder attacks.

Doctors seem to monitor patient vital signs, such as their temperature, regularly in the hospital. This may be particularly common when they suspect a gallbladder attack. Individuals should consider informing their doctor or nurse if they experience any chills or shaking. In some cases, doctors may choose to administer fever medication to patients. Other remedies for lowering an individual's temperature may include a cool compress on their forehead or removing a layer of clothing.

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Nausea And Vomiting 

The patient's body may not be able to break down fats during a gallbladder attack. This appears to be because the gallstones may be blocking their bile duct. The result of this may be nausea and vomiting. It seems that the pain from a gallbladder attack may often make nausea and vomiting worse. Patients may experience nausea and vomiting more often during the early portion of their gallbladder attack. However, they may still need emergency attention. Doctors may ask patients when their symptoms started and how long they have lasted. Patients should also consider telling their doctor how many vomiting episodes they have experienced. It seems to help if doctors know when patients have been able to keep liquids down. Patients may need injections at the hospital to relieve their nausea. However, this symptom pair may reduce when their gallbladder attack has subsided.

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Abdominal Tenderness 

Abdominal tenderness appears to be another potential symptom of a gallbladder attack. It seems to be common when patients are also dealing with an inflamed gallbladder. This may be called cholecystitis as well. This complication appears to happen when gallstones are stuck in the neck of the patient's gallbladder. Doctors may use two abdominal exams to assess tenderness. The first should help them determine what parts of the abdomen are painful or swollen. Firm pressure seems to help examine these specific areas better. Gallbladder attacks appear to cause tenderness in the upper right abdomen or the middle of the abdomen. Doctors may ask additional questions about the tenderness, such as if they are feeling it in their upper back or right shoulder as well. Patients may also want to say if it has progressed to dull or sharp pain.

Some patients may need a special magnetic resonance imaging scan to identify gallbladder inflammation. This scan seems to be called magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography. Individuals may need hepatobiliary nuclear imaging. It appears to confirm if their cystic duct is blocked. This may occur in acute gallbladder inflammation. Patients may need to fast to let their gallbladder rest. A low-fat diet may help as well. Antibiotics appear to be another treatment, though some individuals seem to need bile drainage or gallbladder removal surgery.

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Dark Urine 

Some patients seem to experience dark urine if their gallbladder attack goes untreated for a few hours. Thus, it may be a late-stage symptom. Dark urine appears to signify acute cholecystitis in some cases. Patients may have dark brown urine that looks similar to tea. However, some may see bright yellow urine. The discoloration may indicate that gallstones are blocking their bile duct.

Their urine should return to normal when they receive treatment for a gallbladder attack. This may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics. Surgical remedies may help prevent future attacks and complications. Recovery at home may be needed as well. 

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Emily Fowler