Gallstone symptoms or just IBS?

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Early last year I was diagnosed with several small gallstones following 2 ½ days of non-stop stitch type pain, nausea, dark orangey/red urine (despite lots to drink) and several urgent needs to open my bowels.  That went off but a few weeks later I got the stitch pain again which spread across to left side, like a tight band squeezing me.  I found it went off quickly if I lay in a foetal position or the (yoga) Child Pose.  It occurred occasionally and then went away.  By the time I saw the specialist (3 months later) I’d had no further symptoms of any kind and felt a bit blasé about it all so he recommended taking no action at present re GB removal due to high incidence of problems afterwards.

I was okay right through the summer, no matter what I ate, but the rt sided pain and ‘tight band’ symptoms started up again in September for no apparent reason and have become far more frequent since, on average every 2-3 days now, generally late evening or sometimes at night.  It’s often resolved by passing wind or opening bowels, taking up the positions mentioned above or just walking around.

It’s puzzling me that none of the medical websites I've seen mention much about bowels in their list of GS symptoms apart from saying that opening them doesn’t relieve the pain (which it does now) and that stools are pale (which they’re not).  They did say that GS cause flatulence, which certainly occurs.   I should really go back to my GP about it but have been putting it off as I'm scared that, as soon as I mention bowels, he’ll just treat it as IBS and refer me for a colon scan. (I had a barium enema years ago which left me with pain and diarrhoea for a while afterwards and don’t want to repeat the experience.)  I wondered if anyone else has had these symptoms or whether they are a form of IBS after all in addition to the GS.    

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12 Replies

  • Posted

    Helen,

    I had the exact symptoms you have!  I had that stitch pain across that lasted for 20 minutes or so.  I used to sit on the loo, holding my boobies up and waited until I'd opened my bowels then it stopped being really painful and I was able to lie on the bed in the foetal position, sleep for a couple of hours then I was fine.

    Once I had urine the colour that you described.  It looked bright orange, like tizer or lucozade.  The Doctor I saw hadn't seen anything like it!  Another said that they think it was as a result of me passing a stone!

    I used to get those symptoms on and off for years, and I never did anything about them as I was always fine afterwards.  But after the orange urine, I became really bad with the symptoms then I had to have the gallbladder removed.

    I wish you well going forward.

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    • Posted

      Hi Dolly,

      Thanks so much for your reply.  It certainly confirms that my symptoms are after all connected with the GB, especially having begun soon after the initial attack.  I wasn’t sure as several years ago I had very similar episodes of pain relieved by opening bowels which the doctor said was just IBS having found no particular cause (not that he bothered to do many tests).

      Regarding the urine, that’s certainly the colour it was and I reckon your doctor was right about passing a stone.  I didn’t mention last time that, as well as the constant stitch pain when it first occurred, every time I turned over in bed there was a sharp pain like I’d been kicked together with an urge to vomit and I later wondered whether a stone had moved or been passed. 

      I hope you haven’t had any problems since your op.  Both my friends who had one about 10 years ago have been fine since theirs but the number of horror stories on this forum are another reason I’ve been putting off a return visit to the doc.  At the moment what I'm experiencing is preferable to what I've been reading on here!

      Best wishes, Helen 

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  • Posted

    Sounds more like gallbladder to me Helen.

    I would go back to GP.

    In the meantime, keep to a low fat or even no fat diet and see if that helps.

    Take care and keep in touch

    Sarah

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  • Posted

    I had my GB removed several years ago, the test was easy, the surgeon ordered an ultrasound. It was 2 weeks afterward that I started experiencing either runny stools or constipation and excruciating pain just under my sternum. After a year or so I was finally diagnosed with IBS and given Dicyclomine to treat the IBS. It has really helped tremendously, I still have flare-ups occasionally but the meds control it quite fast. Some foods such as dairy or red meats and medications such as pain meds will trigger the pain so I try to watch what I eat. My oldest daughter also had her GB removed but she waited so long that some of the stones were working their way into her liver, she had a much rougher surgery then I did, she was sick to her stomach and jaundice and quite a bit of pain. It's important to have a second opinion and get rid of that GB if needed so please get into a specialists office and have it checked out. I wish you the best.
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  • Posted

    If you are not satisfied with the outcome keep returning to the doctor, the more you go the faster they will want to resolve it. Keep mentioning your gaul stones but I hasten to add any worries should show up in blood tests ,have any been done .
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  • Posted

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my question.   I know I definitely have several small gallstones as I had a scan and B.T.s soon after the attack.  It’s just that the symptoms I’ve been experiencing since then don’t seem to match the ones described on the medical information sites for GB - apart from the right sided stitch pain - whereas the first lot did.  Oh well, looks like it’s back to the doctor for more tests. sad 
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    • Posted

      It sounds like gallstones to me. Everything you describe, you describe very well and I can say I have felt the same. The tight band or stitch, the feeling like passing a bowel movement or wind will help. It's horrible. Like trapped wind, nausea, urine infection all in one. I've felt like I can't wear tighter fitting clothes round the waist and even a bra is too much or my breasts seem to aggravate the symptoms. I did chuckle when LMD said about sitting on the toilet holding breasts up. I've done it! I have stones confirmed, a thick gallbladder and inflamed bile duct. Get the tests done and get on the waiting list. It's a VERY long wait!
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    • Posted

      Thanks Lisa, it’s all become a bit of a nightmare hasn’t it.  Had to go off in tai chi today and visit the toilet and then the pain only went when I sat down after the class.  Know what you mean about tight clothing.  I’m having to either let clothes out or or buy them in a larger size.  As for breasts, I don’t think mine are large enough to have much effect!

      Haven’t had any further nausea since the big attack but am worried that it will come back at some point.  Off to the GP tomorrow.

      Best wishes.  

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    • Posted

      It's a fear we all live with, every day until they take the damn thing out. The op is quite quick and the vast majority of patients recover fully and can get on with their lives. The longer we wait the more chance of readmission to hospital and complications. The NHS is broken so bad. Damn cuts!
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  • Posted

    Went to my GP today, who’s referring me back to the specialist.  He said it’s very rare that anyone gets problems post op and also that GB pain isn’t normally alleviated by bowel movements.  Felt like referring him to this forum!   Meanwhile, yet more BTs arranged. 

    Went as low fat as I possibly could over the weekend but was woken by the usual stitch and ‘tight band’ type pain on Saturday night.  It went off but yesterday I needed several visits to the toilet which felt more like IBS; also no nausea but loss of appetite and 2 lb lighter.  I had a reflexology session later and she didn’t pick up anything from the GB/liver area but did from the large intestine.

    I really think there’s two different issues going on here:  the IBS I’ve had on and off for years + confirmed gallstones.  I’m worried about removal of the latter making the IBS worse and right now I feel like I’m ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’. 

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    • Posted

      I hope everything is OK and you can get some answers. It's quite scary. Especially as you've already had your gallbladder removed. Let us know how you get on x
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    • Posted

      Sorry Lisa, have realised that my wording was misleading.  I haven’t had it removed and told my GP that I was worried about having the op due to so many people experiencing problems later, which is when he tried to reassure me about the rarity of later problems, which isn’t what the specialist told me last year.  I hadn’t had any further symptoms back then so he recommended leaving it alone for the time being.

      Well, with the state of the NHS the op is going to be way into the future anyway.  Sounds like you’re in a bad way with your GB so I hope you get a date for yours soon.  Have no idea about the waiting time. x

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