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.


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. 


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, Forney, and Terrell, Texas, to set up a consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux

If, like millions of others, you struggle with acid reflux, there are many things you can do to better manage the condition that don’t involve medications or surgery, starting with the five tips we outline here.

Where Do You Fit on the Body Mass Index?

When it comes to assessing your weight, one of the frontline tools is the body mass index (BMI) calculator, which measures your body fat based on your height and weight. Here’s where your results fit in.

Should You Have a Colonoscopy This Year?

Deaths attributed to colorectal cancers have been dropping over the past several decades, and colonoscopies play a very large role in this decline. Here’s a look at when you should undergo this important cancer screening.

5 Tips for Preparing for Bariatric Surgery

The decision to undergo bariatric surgery typically isn’t one that’s made overnight but after years of trying, unsuccessfully, to lose weight. With that decision made, there are a number of things you can do to prepare so everything goes smoothly.

What Role Does My Thyroid Play in My Body?

Body temperature, metabolism, heart rate — these are just three of the many areas in which your thyroid plays a role. Here’s a look at the large influence this small gland has in your body.