What Symptoms Do Gallstones Cause?


Quick Answer

Gallstones often don't cause symptoms; however, the stones may cause pain in the right shoulder, the right upper quadrant of the abdomen or in the middle part of the abdomen, according to Mayo Clinic. Gallstones may also cause pain between the shoulder blades.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of gallstones that require immediate medical attention include high fever that comes along with chills, extreme abdominal pain and yellowing of the skin, reports Mayo Clinic. Whitening of eyes that occurs as a result of gallstones requires immediate medical care as well.

Possible causes of gallstones include poor drainage of the gallbladder, and excess amounts of bilirubin or cholesterol in the bile, explains Mayo Clinic. Genetics, pregnancy, obesity and being female may predispose a person to the condition. Other risk factors include rapid weight loss and eating a diet that is low in fiber, or high in fat or cholesterol. Magnetic resonance imaging, computerized axial tomography scans and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography may help provide diagnosis.

Treatment is not necessary for gallstones that don't cause symptoms, states Mayo Clinic. Surgery and medications may be helpful in extreme cases. Maintaining a healthy weight may prevent gallstones from forming. If left untreated, the stones may block the common bile duct, which may lead to an infection and yellowing of skin. Other possible complications include cancer of the gallbladder and gallbladder inflammation.

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