how long can a gallbladder attack last ?

Posted , 8 users are following.

hi all

I have been having pain in right flank, back pain, GERD for nearly 4 weeks now

doctor did Murphys sign test, which showed I had strong, sharp pain where gallbladder is

I cannot tolerate fatty foods, triggers right side pain, nausea, back pain on right side (and occasionally left side)

pain increases when I breathe in at times, stomach cramps, shoulder pain. I am also losing weight rapidly 

I have had these symptoms for nearly 4 weeks now , pain in right side, back is not getting worse, but not better either

I am back to the doctors tomorrow 

how long can gallbladder attack last for, is this possibly a case of a stone passing ?

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11 Replies

  • Posted


    Sorry to hear you are unwell. TBH I think many people have different symptoms. I ignored my issues for years as I believed gallstones caused you to be screaming in pain, I wasn't like that, it was more constant and gnawing. When I first started having problems the pain/discomfort would just last a few days. In the weeks before I had my gallbladder removed I was ill everyday; chronic soreness, pain left and right sides, gas etc etc I was very sceptical and didn't believe it could all be down to my gallbladder, I diagnosed myself with all kind of things 😬After the removal the surgeon said there were signs of chronic illness. Glad I had it out! I'm 6 months on and whilst I still get heartburn, life is soooooo much better. Hope you get some answers soon x

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    • Posted

      thats excellent news, glad you much better now. Thanks for sharing information. My symptoms are more subtle in some ways, more in line with yours. I have more blood tests today, an urine tests. I will get results Wednesday, take it from there.
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  • Posted


    Having a sick gallbladder is a lot worse than most people imagine isn't it. I think, because it's usually a laparoscopic procedure, it's dismissed by many as something trivial, yet anyone who has had gallstone attacks will tell you it's anything but. It can actually be life threatening. I was close to septic shock due to jaundice from mine. In others the gallbladder ruptures leading to peritonitis so it's not trivial.

    Symptoms do vary from person to person but what you're describing is very typical of some sort of gallbladder issue. My worst attacks lasted four or five days and I could not eat or sleep, consequently I also lost a lot of weight (also had no appetite) and became exhausted.

    Eat little and often. Cut down on fats: use 0% or low fat dairy where you can. Use Flora light instead of butter. Cut out takeaways, especially fries and chips. No baked goods except wholemeal bread and no processed foods. I'd also avoid alcohol as this affects the liver which can be affected by gallstones. This should help. I also had a stent inserted in my common bile duct after I had the jaundice.

    The thing is, and I'm truly sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you're probably going to have quite a wait for surgery. In total I waited six months, but many wait even longer. You have to find ways of coping with the symptoms meantime. Low fat diet does help also painkillers during attacks but they are not guarantees that you won't still have attacks. When this happens my advice is to attend A&E so they can see how bad you are and sometimes they'll give liquid morphine to help the pain.

    Ask to be referred for an ultrasound which can show gallstones if they're large enough, then ask for a referral to a gastology department. Your 18 week referral to treatment wait only begins on this referral, though it largely seems to be ignored at present.

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    • Posted

      thanks SoW

      I find eggs are huge trigger for pain, symptoms, dairy too. I seem to have intolerance to dairy overnight. Am losing 1lb a day minute, think this is due to GERD. I now have good local GP looking after me, and keeping eye on symptoms. 

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  • Posted

    Difficult to say how long this can last for, everyone is so different.  Ask the doctor if they really think this is gallstones and if so ask them to refer you to a hospital for further tests and treatment. You need to do this as soon as possible, because even if it is confirmed and you are put on the waiting list to have your gallbladder removed there may well be a 9 month - a year waiting list. You will probably have a scan.

    Also you may well have to be on a completely fat free diet. This is extremely difficult.

    Sorry if all this sounds depressing but better to be honest with you from the start.

    Take care and keep in touch


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  • Posted

    thank you all for your kind words, help

    yes my pains generally more of the gnawing type, with occasional shooting pain. The GERD is not helping. I had a nasty large polyp taken out of colon last December, then I had bad bout of GERD at this time. Once I got back on feet in February this year, I thought that was that

    I have elevated liver enzymes too, but this has been know for few years. I am bit concerned about rapid weight lose. Although I guess because I have limited choices with food, this is forcing the weight loss. 

    Is weird I am getting middle left back shooting pains at times, I guess this could be referred pain, or the kidneys, 

    when all this happened 4 weeks ago, I nearly passed out at work, paramedics were called, then I was taken to A&E. Blood tests 4 weeks ago obviously showed no concern for kidneys. Although blood test did show I was fighting some kind of infection. ECG test was fine

    I have read in other posts that the vagus nerve can play havoc, strange pains, symptoms, with you when GERD is present. Plus I did have an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy when I was poorly in December, this showed smallish hiatus hernia too

    the problem I have with current doctors is that my consultant is pushing for heart MRI because of the recent chest pains I was having (these have now calmed down because I am managing my GERD better, dairy seems now to be massive trigger), and I have pre-hypertensive blood pressure too. He seems to want to ignore my GPs positive Murphy's sign test that was conducted last week. The consultant and I quote says "the majority of his abdominal/flank symptoms are likely to be musculoskeletal"

    I just cannot believe he is saying this. I had serious motorcycle accident when I was 18, I know what musculoskeletal pain is like. The right flank pain (which I have had ever since I got taken ill last November) has always been there, I have constantly told these consultants that this pain is real. Now the pain is very real and with me every day (previously the right flank pain would come and go for days, weeks)

    so I am back to the same GP who did the Murphys sign test last week, and ask him where do we go from here. 

    for me I think another ultrasound scan is required (I had one 10 months ago), something has changed since that last scan. Maybe I just have some gallbladder malfunction, inflammation going on without stones

    I have read that non-calcified stones can be missed by scans (when I was taken to A&E last November when my health turned poorly first time round, I remember the two mains doctors talking about this to me)

    I have no signs of jaundice , but when I eat fatty foods, right flank pain shoots right up, with nausea, dizziness (how can this be musculoskeletal related ? )

    sorry I did not include all of this in first post, but I did not want to waffle on too much

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  • Posted

    Hi DTSFA.  I hope you are still coming to the site to respond.  I am going through all the same things you are and it sounds like it is in the exact same places.  I hope you got answers.  Me I need a second opinion and it is scheduled for two months out.  Hope all turns out well for you 
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  • Posted

    Two weeks ago I came to the hospital with a gallbladder attack, severe abdominal pain. Turns out I had gallstones. I was given toradol and sent home. So last night when I had the same pain, I thought it was another attack from gallstones. But 11 hours later the pain remained so I came to ER. Turns out it was pancreatitis. Now I’m glad I came to the hospital and didn’t wait it out!
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    • Posted

      Julie, how did they treat your pancreatitis? I have been in significant pain for over a week, with liver enzymes elevated. Dr says pancreatitis, but CT done yesterday didn’t show anythig wrong. Gallbladder was “contracted”, which from what I’m reading could be an issue, as I hadnt eaten 24 hours prior to having scan done. Eating very little, and drinking lots of fluids, but pain is awful. 
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    • Posted

      Stacy, they admitted me overnight and gave me iv fluids plus pain meds. Once they took bloodwork again in the morning, my enzyme levels were coming down. They discharged me and advised me to drink lots of water and not to eat fatty foods. I’ve had two more attacks since then in the last week (after eating plain white rice one day and a boiled egg the other). When I went back to the hospital, they tested my blood again. Once again my liver enzymes were elevated but “not enough to be concerned” and they sent me home with the recommendation to not eat for 48 hours and drink lots of water in order for my pancreas to get rid of any inflammation. 48 hrs are now up, so all I can do is hope eating won’t cause another attack!
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