What does a Gallbladder attack feel like?

(180 Posts)
Jelly4444 Thu 08-Oct-20 22:02:05

Decided to treat ourselves to a Chinese last night. Big mistake! Woke up at 4am with excruciating pain under my right ribs! Vomited with the pain for a few hours. Took a difene but it did nothing. Never felt a pain like it before. I intended to get the kids to school at 8.30 and go to A&E but the pain went and I felt fine. Rang the doctors and I can't get an appointment until next week.

Does this sound like a gallbladder attack? I'm so worried!

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CaraDuneRedux Thu 08-Oct-20 22:14:19

That does sound like gall bladder. Starts just under right ribs, then just becomes all encompassing as attack progresses, with frequent vomiting. Pain is so intense you can't do anything to "just take your mind off it."

First attack I had was so severe I ended up taken to hospital in an ambulance! IV morphine and anti-emetics were only thing that helped. Second attack I recognised what was going on early, and made my own way to A&E - big mistake. Left vomiting in waiting room, sent home rather than admitted, by the time I got to see anyone middle of next day, infection was raging, spent a week in hospital, everything was too inflamed to operate safely. Had to wait for elective surgery once my insides had calmed down.

Do see your doctor. If it flares up again don't wait, go straight to A&E. And in the mean time try to cut as much fat as possible out of your diet - no cake, no chocolate, no fried foods of any sort, no butter, no cheese.

Jelly4444 Thu 08-Oct-20 22:29:40

Thanks Cara! That sounds like a horrific experience. I'll definitely go to the doctor next week. Did you feel instantly better when you had your gallbladder removed? I hate the thoughts of an operation.

The pain was unlike anything I've ever felt before and I have 3 kids!! I felt it was as a result of eating the greasy food. We treated ourselves as we have been watching what we eat for months.... after the "Chinese Affair" I won't be eating junk again too soon.

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CaraDuneRedux Thu 08-Oct-20 22:36:42

Low fat diet helped a lot (and also resulted in me losing shedloads of weight). The op has helped insofar as I no longer feel like I have the sword of damocles hanging over me, with the threat of extreme pain if I eat anything fatty grin. But I did find the post op recovery very tough. Though from talking to friends who've had theirs out, I think I had an unusually bad recovery - from what the surgeon said afterwards it sounds like it was quite a tricky op because the bad infection had left me with quite a bit of scar tissue and adhesions. (Swings and roundabouts - I had a ridiculously easy CS a few years earlier with DS.)

For me attack 1 was Ikea meat balls, attack 2 was too much chocolate!

CaraDuneRedux Thu 08-Oct-20 22:39:01

Not everyone has that bad a time - my BF had just the one attack a couple of years ago and has managed to control it with diet since then. And another friend reported feeling instantly better the day after the op. So everyone's different.

lobsteroll Thu 08-Oct-20 22:51:14

Sounds like it to me too. Radiating pain that you can't completely pin point. It's awful, really feel for you. Definitely worse than labour! My GP (male) smirked at me when I said that but it's absolutely true!

Surgery is likely to be keyhole and is really not bad at all. You'll probably be in and out in 24 hrs.

In the meantime definitely steer clear of fatty and greasy foods.

Jelly4444 Fri 09-Oct-20 08:53:10

Sorry for not replying last night. I collapsed into bed early!! Thanks for your replies @CaraDuneRedux and @lobsteroll. I went to sleep thinking "at least I'm not dying"!! Under my ribcage is still feeling a bit tender today but I feel pretty good otherwise. I'll let you know what the doctor says next week.

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lazylinguist Fri 09-Oct-20 09:00:05

Sounds like gallbladder. Terrifyingly painful. I had mine removed a few years back and no further problems. I'm a massive wuss about hospitals, needles etc and honestly it was fine. I was back home the same evening, recovery was quick, and only needed paracetamol afterwards for a couple of days - didn't bother with the codeine they also prescribed.

I had to wait nearly 8 months for the op though - which meant sticking to a very strictly low fat diet all that time. I found if I ate more than about 10g of fat at one sitting, I got grumbly pain and indigestion. I didn't dare eat anything properly fatty, because there was no way I was risking that horrific pain again! I'd get seen and scanned asap if I were you - sooner it's out, the better!

JumperTime Fri 09-Oct-20 09:04:57

Definitely sounds like gall bladder, it's usually tender the day after a biliary colic attack (when a stone gets stuck). I had 4 or 5 attacks before having mine out. Each one lasted 8-12 hours and felt like labour, I vomited for 8 hours straight with one attack, spent the night on my knees swaying, unable to even pick up the phone for help. Getting it out was the best thing I ever did, no after affects and I can eat normally.

Nestlyn Fri 09-Oct-20 09:06:56

Yep, sounds like it to me. My experience was similar to Cara. I had mine removed 8 or 9 years ago and I eat anything I want to now.

AllAboutHallowsEve Fri 09-Oct-20 09:13:40

I think I've had attacks of biliary colic before but I've not been formally diagnosed. Pain, vomiting and suddenly drenched in sweat. Do they sound like the symptoms of a gallbladder attack? First time it happened was when I was at home eating a sausage roll 😳

Jelly4444 Fri 09-Oct-20 09:31:17

@lazylinguist I can't believe you had to wait 8 months to get it out! shock In good news, I'll be a skinny Minnie if I have to wait that long.smile

It definitely sounds like a gallbladder issue. And you all seem to have experienced an even worse attack than me... I'm so scared of it coming back!!

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Jelly4444 Fri 09-Oct-20 09:33:41

@AllAboutHallowsEve sounds like what I experienced. I had cold sweats... although just a bit.

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Witchend Fri 09-Oct-20 10:32:25


I get occasional attacks, I think.

It's pain under the right rib which feels excruciating. Always comes at night, and it radiates all the way across the bottom of my ribs. First time I wondered if it was a heart attack, because it felt crushing across my middle. Took my pulse and found it was boringly normal, so ruled that out. grin

It tends to happen in clusters. I had one a couple of night ago, I suspect I may have another in the next couple of nights, and I may get a further one. But then I don't get one for months. It's been like that for over 20 years, so you're not necessarily doomed to 8 months of pain and then an operation.

Bouledeneige Fri 09-Oct-20 10:41:13

I had about 4 or 5 gall bladder attacks before having mine removed earlier this year under health insurance.

First times it felt as you describe - under the right ribs, like a heart attack, real agony and no painkillers hit the sides. But the first attacks subsided after an hour or so. On the second I got taken to hospital but the symptoms had subsided and it went undiagnosed - they suggested indigestion!

The last attack was terrible. I was sick about 12 times over 4 days and ended up in hospital - I had a fever, high blood pressure, high heart rate and the scans showed my gallstones and an inflamed gallbladder. The wait on the NHS was quite long but I'd just moved to a job with health insurance so was very pleased to have to have it removed after a 2 week wait - picking the day and time. Simple procedure and I've not had a single problem since.

CaraDuneRedux Fri 09-Oct-20 10:44:58

First time I wondered if it was a heart attack, because it felt crushing across my middle.

That's why I ended up with an ambulance for my first attack.

Ironically, it was the second one, where I managed to make it to hospital under my own steam, which was much more serious, because it got infected.

Hawkmoth Fri 09-Oct-20 10:50:35

Sounds about right. I have been having them for a few months now. I expect it to be at least a year before I even get seen by a surgeon.

I am trying my hardest to eat a very low fat diet and am mostly keeping it under control. I swear my last attack was simply from thinking about cake though...

I have a shitload of strong painkillers from the GP though, so make sure they don't leave you without.

HyggeTygge Fri 09-Oct-20 10:51:37

Feels a bit like going into labour around your abdomen! The pain moved around for me, lying down made it worse, going for a wee slightly relieved it.

Never seemed to be linked to food for me. I also used to get dull aches at night in upper right back. This disappeared along with the attacks after i had the gallbladder removed. It was "sludge" rather than stones. Useless doctor never diagnosed it either, presumably because i could never pinpoint it to right shoulderblade.

SneakyBlinder Fri 09-Oct-20 10:54:33

I had all the same symptoms everyone is mentioning. Ended up in hospital NBM for 2 weeks before they took my gallbladder out. All fine for a month then the pain returned. 12 years later they’re still trying to establish what it is confused

sashh Fri 09-Oct-20 11:31:01

I've had gall blader problems, just as you describe OP.

Then a few years ago I thought it was another but after a couple of emergency admissions and 1 'exploratory' surgery (which found nothing) it turned out to be an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit that was growing and bursting then growing again.

Thinking about it the pain was a bit lower but the pain was so similar and the vomiting too.

RWK29 Fri 09-Oct-20 12:03:27

@Jelly4444 I feel for you!! Eventually had my gallbladder removed when I was 24 after a year and a half of having severe attacks 2-3 times per week lasting anything from 2-12 hours each 😳 Doctors all refused to scan me for gallstones because I didn’t “meet the criteria” 🙄 apparently you only get gallstones if you’re “fair, fat and over forty” 😓 they just kept telling me it was indigestion. Multiple trips to A&E who also told me the same thing 🙄

It was horrendously painful and I was having to work full time doing 9 hour shifts on my feet in retail during the attacks 😅 used to have to run off the shop floor to be sick multiple times a day. The pain I had also radiated round my right hand side and into my back and would definitely leave me quite tender for at least a day afterwards.

3 pieces of advice:
- PUSH for a referral from the doctor for a scan if they are in any way reluctant!
- Keep a food diary of what you’re eating each day. Fatty & greasy foods are a very common trigger but there can also be others...for me I couldn’t eat any dairy at all or my pain would be horrendous!
- If an attack comes on again, try sitting under your shower (have it on quite hot) and just let it hit you in the middle of the back. It was the only thing I found that would dull my pain slightly. Lots of people swear by painkillers and Buscopan to stop the cramping but I had no luck with that.

triballeader Fri 09-Oct-20 15:58:49

It is worth knowing the symptoms of pancreatitis if your having gall bladder/stone issues.

It’s a potentially life threatening complication of gallstones that can make you very ill indeed. the GUTS UK charity website has useful info on both gallstones/gallbladder issues and what to watch out for if your pancreas gets involved.

Jelly4444 Fri 09-Oct-20 16:10:09

@RWK29 you made me laugh!! I hadn't heard of the "fair, fat, forty" thing before so I googled it. Its actually the 5Fs "Fair, fat, female, fertile and forty". I fit the build for sure!! grin Blonde and pale, have a bit of a spare tyre, female, a pile of kids and just turned 40. I'm exactly what the doctors are looking for!!

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Jelly4444 Fri 09-Oct-20 16:13:16

@triballeader thanks for this!! I feel much better now but I will check out the website.

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Trailing1 Fri 09-Oct-20 16:15:56

I hope you feel better OP. Gallbladder pain is awful, it felt worse than labour. Also the vomiting was just horrific.

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