Recognizing the Signs of Gallstones

Gallstones affect 10%-15% of the population in the United States. And of the nearly 1 million people diagnosed with gallstones each year, about a quarter need surgery to remedy the problem.

At Rockwall Surgical Specialists, our team of surgeons has extensive experience helping our patients with troublesome gallstones, and the earlier we can address the problem, the better. 

It’s important to note that 80% of gallstones don't produce any symptoms and don’t need any treatment. For the balance, however, untreated gallstones can lead to very serious problems, and even death, which is why it’s critical to recognize the signs. To that end, we’ve pulled together the most common symptoms of gallbladder disease.

Pain

Let’s start with the symptom that’s sure to grab your attention — pain. When a gallstone (or gallstones) moves or becomes large enough to create a blockage in your bile duct, you’ll likely experience pain in your upper right abdomen. 

This pain typically develops in the evening, especially after you eat, and it can last for several hours. The pain can also travel up to your right shoulder and the right hand side of your back.

When there’s pain, it usually means you’re having a gallbladder attack. And the odds are good that you’ll have another, which is why we recommend seeking treatment after your first attack. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is the standard treatment for gallstones.

Nausea, vomiting, and fever

Anytime these three symptoms develop, it’s always cause for concern. If you’re experiencing pain on your right side and it’s accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or fever, it’s time to see a doctor to determine the cause. 

Jaundice

If the whites of your eyes or your skin take on a yellow pallor, that’s the result of jaundice, which can be caused by inflammation or infection in your gallbladder, liver, or pancreas.

Strangely colored waste

Another sign of problematic gallstones is urine that’s darker in color and stool that’s much lighter than normal (sort of sand-colored).

Why help is important

If you’re experiencing any of the signs we’ve outlined, we urge you to seek medical attention promptly. Problematic gallstones don’t go away, and they cause continuing, and often worsening, problems.

The symptoms we describe are related not only to gallstones, but also to other serious health concerns, including appendicitis, pancreatitis, and ulcerative colitis. Seeking help at the first signs of a problem allows quick intervention to prevent bigger problems from developing down the road.

When your doctor says you need gallbladder surgery, contact one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, or Forney, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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