What are Cholecystitis Symptoms?

Carrie Currie

Cholecystitis symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the disease, but the most common are severe pain behind the breast bone and in the upper back, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Gallbladder inflammation, another name for cholecystitis, can be caused by several factors, including gallstones or an infection. Treatment depends on the cause of the inflammation, but usually a laproscopic cholecystectomy is performed to remove the gallbladder.

The gallbladder is a small organ on the right side of the abdomen that conducts bile from the liver to the small intestine.
The gallbladder is a small organ on the right side of the abdomen that conducts bile from the liver to the small intestine.

The gallbladder is a small organ on the right side of the abdomen that conducts bile from the liver to the small intestine. Gallstones form when there is an imbalance in the gallbladder, and people often don't even realize they have them. If a stone blocks the bile duct, however, it can be quite painful, due to inflammation. Inflammation of the gallbladder may also occur if there is an infection, a tumor, or if an injury was sustained to the abdomen.

Upper back pain is common with cholecystitis.
Upper back pain is common with cholecystitis.

Gallbladder pain is one of the most common of the cholecystitis symptoms and is often confused with indigestion. Pain from a gallstone or gallbladder inflammation is usually very severe and will not respond to over-the-counter medications, changing positions, or eating food. Beginning in the abdomen, it can radiate to the right shoulder. An attack may last an hour or more at a time and often will wake an individual out of a sound sleep. Attacks tend to happen around the same time of day, and while they rarely happen more than once a week, they are more likely to take place after a fatty meal.

Nausea and vomiting often occur as a result of the pain and pressure from an attack, as well as from any infection that might be present. Fever and chills may accompany other cholecystitis symptoms, though these symptoms are generally related to an infection. Sweating, bloating, and abdominal tenderness are also common gallbladder symptoms.

Cholecystitis can be acute or chronic, and while many people may only suffer one or two episodes then have no attacks or cholecystitis symptoms for years, it is generally recommended that the gallbladder be removed because it is a recurring disorder. Unless the inflammation or infection is life threatening, doctors will generally schedule a laproscopic cholecystectomy and will remove the gallbladder through small incisions in the abdomen. There are usually few complications after surgery, though some individuals may suffer from diarrhea. Untreated cholecystisis can lead to several complications including perforation of the gallbladder, which can spread infection into the abdomen.

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