Agonizing Stomach Pain: Is it gallstones?

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Unexplained stomach upset and pain can be irritating and even debilitating. Unfortunately, a variety of conditions can cause digestive distress, so diagnosing the culprit behind these symptoms can be difficult. One condition that many people may not consider is gallstones.
What are gallstones?
Gallstones are solid deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder aids in digestion by holding bile and secreting it into the small intestine. Sometimes, stones develop because cholesterol or pigments in bile form hardened particles. Genetics, body weight, decreased movement in the gallbladder, and diet are factors that may cause the development of gallstones.
Symptoms of gallstones
  • Sudden pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Sudden pain in the center of the abdomen
  • Back pain between the shoulder blades
  • Pain near the right shoulder
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating, gas, indigestion
However, some gallstones don’t cause symptoms at all.
Treatment of gallstones
  • Surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy)
  • Medications to dissolve gallstones
When to see a doctor
  • Intense abdominal pain that interferes with daily tasks
  • Yellowing skin and whites of eyes
  • High fever with chills


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