Gallbladder Signs and Symptoms

Most people with gallstones do not have any symptoms. Around 80% of people with gallstones go 20 years or more without symptoms. 

Gallbladder pain or colic is the most common symptom in symptomatic patients. It is usually a temporary pain and is located in the right upper side of the abdomen lasting from 30 minutes to 24 hours. The pain may occur after eating a fatty meal.

Gallstone disease, however, can have severe and even life-threatening complications in case where the gallstones block the bile ducts (cystic or common bile duct) or irritate the pancreas, leading to:

  • Acute cholecystitis, meaning inflammation of the gallbladder, and presenting with severe right upper abdominal tenderness, fever, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. This condition usually requires in-hospital treatment.
  • Jaundice, meaning yellowing of the skin and the white of your eyes arising from increased bilirubin in the blood stream and usually caused by obstruction of the bile ducts by gallstones.
  • Acute Pancreatitis, meaning inflammation of the pancreas and presenting with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, occasionally jaundice and may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality in severe cases.