Gallstones or not?

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I've had severe pain under my ribs for a week. Seen a GP who did the test and confirmed the pains due to gallstone (s). I have an ultra sound scan tomorrow afternoon to hopefully confirm things.

I have been prescribed Codeine 60mg 4 times a day along with Paracetamol. These only take the edge off the pain and I'm still in constant pain when breathing.

I wondered does anyone know if theses symptoms are normal for gallstones and what the next step is likely to after the scan?

Having been in constant pain for over a week,I'm not sure how much more I can cope with.

Thanks in advance.

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    It does sound like gallbladder pain, but the pain I had from gastritis was very similar. Your ultrasound will confirm whether or not it is gallstones. 

    After the scan, if gallstones are confirmed, you will be referred to a surgeon to discuss removal. How long that takes seems to depend on area. Some people wait years, others months. Gallbladder surgery is usually Day case, although I was kept in overnight. But my surgery was late afternoon. Surgery is usually keyhole, although you have to sign for open surgery, just in case they can't do the surgery keyhole. There is some pain for a few days, but recovery is fairly quick. 

    Watching what you eat might help whilst you are waiting for surgery. Fat is a big no no for most people the gallbladder pain. Simple bland foods seem to be better tolerated. 

    Hope this helps. Hopefully you will be referred to see a surgeon quickly and won't wait too long. 

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    • Posted

      Thanks. My 99% sure it's gallstones despite the original diagnosis of gastroenteritis last week.

      I have quite a physical job and because moving increases the pain, I have decided not to work this week. I worked last week and really struggled being in constant pain.

      I just want a diagnosis and then a decision on treatment and as I said,I'm fed up of being in pain all the time.

      I posted to get some advice,information and support from anyone who's been in the same or similar situation.

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  • Posted

    It does sound like gallstones, however, whilst I had attacks that sometimes lasted 3 or 4 days at a time, I was never in constant pain for a week. Usually the fact that I didn't eat anything during attacks calmed down the pains. Difficulty breathing is another common symptom. Have you had any nausea, sickness or diarrhoea, which are other common symptoms? Gallstone pain is usually felt on right side or centrally and in right shoulder blade. I can only liken it to labour pains in severity but without the gap between contractions. I could not eat or sleep during attacks.

    It's good advice to eat a low fat diet. Also do not overload your stomach or eat spicy foods or drink alcohol. This will not stop the symptoms but will reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of painful attacks. 

    Codeine and paracetamol are the commonly prescribed analgesics for gallbladder pain. Personally, I cannot take codeine as I find it constipates. If the pain is very severe, attend A&E, where they will usually give oral morphine and may be able to bring forward tests and even surgery, but there are long waiting lists all over the UK. My hospital is performing daycase laparoscopic cholecystectomy on Saturdays, as there is such a backlog. I have also  just been sent an appointment for a CT scan at 17:40 in the evening. Husband had endoscopy performed on a Sunday! So they are struggling to cope.

    If ultrasound shows presence of gallstones, you will usually be told by a junior member of your surgeon's team. However I doubt if he/she will be able to give you a date for surgery at that point. I waited from September 2016 until February 2017 before I had surgery, despite being admitted in October for a week due to jaundice. I signed up to have any HB surgeon perform my surgery and said I could be available at short notice to quicken the process. In the end, I was lucky, and got a cancellation. Be prepared for a long wait. It's not a good situation I'm afraid.

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    • Posted

      I had really bad gallbladder pain 8weeks after childbirth and was put on a long waiting list. The meds did not give much relief and I needed to increase the frequency which kept me worried as I was breastfeeding. But I found out certain foods helped. I take 1or 2tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water first thing in the morning, undiluted juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon 2or3 times a day before meals. I also blend beet root, cucumber and carrots once a day and eat apples for snacks. I adjusted my diet and eat freshly cooked meals, no fried nor processed food nor food from packets and cans, basically the less preservative the better. I also switched to cooking with olive and coconut oil, basically foods that are easier for the body to digest. These steps have kept me sane while waiting for my surgery. Hope it helps you too x
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  • Posted

    Thanks everyone for the comments and advice. I'll certainly change my eating habits and monitoring any increase in pain. I'm not looking forward to no spices and I don't eat fish so looks like more fruit and veg .

    Update -I had my abdominal scan today and struggled to hold my breath due to pain but the lady doing the scan was lovely and very patient. She told me there were gallstones and once the scan was complete I asked to look. She showed me and there was more than half a dozen stones but I didn't count. I was just relieved to see what was causing the pain.

    I've continued to take 60mg of codeine 4 times a day with very little effect but I think the worse of the pain has passed. It constantly hurts to breath and any slight exercise eg gentle walking,just increases the constant niggle pain I have.

    I'm going back to the Dr's tomorrow to discuss pain management and returning to work after the weekend. I don't expect the scan results to be there just yet,but I would like some more pain control-if that's ever possible- until the inevitable surgery.

    Once again thanks for the replies.

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    • Posted

      Most GPS won't prescribe anything stronger even though the pain is bad.  The hospitals are reluctant to give you anything stronger on discharge too. Even though I'd had two lots of surgery within five weeks I was discharged after my second surgery and one week post op with  nothing more than codeine. My GP kindly prescribed tramodol which I'd had during my haspital stay as I really was in a lot of post op pain. At 67, don't think I look like the sort of person who takes drugs (don't even take a paracetamol unless pain is very bad and can't take codeine due to side effects) but the hospital policy prevents them from prescribing stronger analgesics. Consequently there were inpatients on oral morphine, being sent home with nothing more than codeine. Because of the drug problems in this country, it's assumed we are all on drugs resulting in doctors refusing strong painkillers even when patients need them!

      The advice someone gave to attend A&E when the pain is unbearable is good. They will at least give you a strong painkiller there and ensure that your condition isn't deteriorating.

      Waiting for surgery is a risky time. I don't want to frighten you but I am the sort who just gritted my teeth and took to my bed during attacks but still ended up in A&E with jaundice. I actually passed out at home- just slid to the floor. So don't let it get to that stage. There are other complications that I won't go into now that can happen if surgery is delayed.

      I found the low fat diet route the most effective. Yes it seems to be boring, but as I got into it, I actually found ways of making it more appetising: baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, cut into wedges, sprayed lightly with olive oil and crisped up in oven are as delicious, if not more so, than chips and frozen 0% fat yogurts is as good as ice cream. I didn't cut fat out completely (actually very difficult to do anyway) I just reduced it. Marks and Spencer's Count on Us ready meals are a good stand by and taste very nice too. You have to find ways of getting through this time until you have surgery as some people are waiting well over the eighteen week limit.

      Hope your GP sorts you out as you seem to be in a lot of pain.

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  • Posted

    Just go to A&E


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  • Posted

    I'm glad at least you now have a diagnosis. It's a relief in a way to at least know what's wrong. I went on holiday just before I had my gallbladder removed. It's the only holiday I've ever come back having lost weight!  I lived on lean meat, salad and fruit. It did keep the symptoms under control. 

    I do think prescribing of medication is dependent on your GP. There is a FB site, and I have read of people on there being prescribed tramadol or even morphine for pain. I guess they have to realise hat if you're going to have a long wait then they have to help you broth flares. My GP prescribed buscopan for me, that helped a lot during my holidays!  

    Hope youw wait isn't too long. I was so lucky as I ad mine one privately. I couldn't imagine having to wait more than six months feeling like I did. 

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  • Posted

    Update-today I have felt something near my usual self. Well apart from sneezing and feeling like my insides were being ripped out.

    I got a phone consultation from a Dr at my GP surgery late afternoon. He couldn't understand why I was still in pain especially after the scan showed no stones stuck in the duct but all in the gall bladder. He said that the codeine I have been prescribed is the top dose but any pain that's unbearable I am to phone the surgery or go to A+E -guess my choice!

    Anyway,he said that I will need surgery,which I knew,and if I need anymore time off work then a sick note is there for me.

    I am hoping to go back to work on Monday as the pain is just a background pain . My job is quite physical and I'm on my feet for most of the 5 hour shift. Fingers crossed all goes well on Monday.

    I still haven't eaten much the last few days due to not being hungry/no appetite/feeling bloated. I know these are all signs associated with gallstones.

    I'm not scared of surgery at all. I've had 2 major operations before.

    Onwards and upwards and fingers crossed for surgery soon.

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