Women Discuss Symptoms of Gallbladder Attacks

Woman suffering from abdominal pain, France
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Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? If you haven't personally experienced such an attack, it's likely that you know someone who has experienced this extremely painful condition. You might be surprised to learn that gallstones are the most common digestive disease in the U.S., affecting over 20 million Americans, with a million new cases diagnosed each year.

Did you know that women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones?

This is thought to be caused by multiple pregnancies, obesity, and rapid weight loss in women.

More Facts About Gallstones

Gallstones affect approximately one in 10 Americans and are associated with approximately 3,000 deaths annually. More than 800,000 hospitalizations each year are caused by gallstones that are large enough to cause significant pain.

Over 500,000 people undergo surgery for gallstones annually. Obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for gallstones. Rapid weight loss diets significantly increase the risk for gallstones.

Improve your understanding of gallbladder disease by hearing from real women who've suffered as a result.

Two Attacks, Pain, and Surgery

"I had two attacks before I decided to have mine removed. Both after a rich meal... Mine was...diagnosed with ultrasound. It felt like I was being stabbed in the gut repeatedly--horrible pain, slightly easing, then horrible again." - Analisa Roch 

Emergency Surgery

"Yeah, they can diagnose when you're not having an attack. I had a terrible attack on a Monday morning (2 a.m.) and the ER where I went didn't even consider that it might be gallbladder. They just gave me some sedatives and sent me home saying I had the flu and to check with my doctor.

I went to my doctor's office later that day, and he sent me for the ultrasound (I wasn't having the attack anymore). During the ultrasound, the technician told me 'don't panic, I'll be right back,' as she ran to get a doctor. Needless to say, I was on the operating table in a matter of hours having the thing ripped out.

After the surgery, the doctor told my boyfriend that he was about two minutes away from having to abandon laparoscopy and pull it out the old-fashioned way (a difference of two months recovery vs. two weeks). It was a horrifying experience for me, I know that!" - Stunned2

Symptoms Like a Heart Attack

"I had my gallbladder removed in September. I only had one major attack. I had minor ones before, diarrhea, stomach cramps, etc. The major attack that sent me to the emergency room was awful. I told them I thought I was having a gallbladder attack since I had a strong family history of stones, but they treated me first as if I was having a heart attack since the symptoms are sometimes similar.

I was diagnosed with ultrasound. My symptoms were pain in my chest that didn't go away until I got Demerol, pain in the middle of my back, and shortness of breath." - Lauren

Laparoscopic Surgery a Breeze

"Mine started acting up during my first pregnancy...

and it didn't come out until after my last pregnancy (twins) [12 years later]. It bothered me with a dull pain. I had to sit a lot and just ate less. I didn't have the major surgery (had lap) and it was a breeze. It was easier than going to the dentist.

I did turn yellow in my eyes so went to the doctor and had an ultrasound. Tell the surgeon that you want him to make sure to clean out the duct for stones. Some people have had one left behind and had to return. Pull it out; it is worth it. Make sure that they save your stones for you." - Graydowney  

Watch Your Diet

"I found that a diet low in fats, sodium, and red meat helped with the attacks.

Also drink lots of water. My experience was different than most as my gallbladder had constricted down onto the gallstone. This could be why mine were hard to detect." - Mommyplays 

Gallstones at 17

"I'm only 17, and about five months ago I got a horrible stomachache, and it felt like my stomach was on fire. Then it felt like I had sore stomach muscles on the inside--after about 15 minutes it went away. Then about a month later, the same thing happened, but it woke me up at 2 a.m., and I was up until 6 a.m. I was pale and fevered, and I felt like I was going to be sick to my stomach.

Then it didn't happen for two months, and I had an attack on Oct. 10, then another on the 25th. By then I wanted to know what was going on. I went to my doctor, he ordered an ultrasound and an upper GI with the lower bowel follow through. Nothing was abnormal in either except they found a mass beside my liver, and my pancreas was not visible.

That was on Wednesday; on Friday I went in for a CT scan to determine what the mass was and to try and locate my pancreas, as well as the exact location of my gallbladder. I went in for a meeting with a surgeon on Tuesday of the next week, then that Friday I had my gallbladder removed...

So, old fashioned way it was. He actually had to take my intestines out and separate scar tissue before he could even find my gallbladder. I ended up being in surgery for two hours. Now, although I don't have the attacks--the week before I had surgery I lost 8 pounds and threw up everything I ate, except crackers.

To those of you who are experiencing gallbladder attacks, I'd advise you to get it removed before it causes any more problems. Oh, and I got my gallstones--I had 20." - Tabikat01 

Is This Gallstones?

"I think I might have gallstones. I'm still going through tests. Has anyone had rashes or hives with this? I've had stinging and itching for about a month and a half. Sometimes I think I'm going to go crazy; the doctors don't seem to understand why this is happening and I can't get any answers.

I'm losing weight and throwing up. My back hurts, my stomach hurts and I get constipated." - Smith1279 

Gallstones Without Attacks?

"Can you have gallbladder trouble without having attacks? I have had pain in my side like a dull ache. But not severe attacks. Can you have a diseased gallbladder without gallstone?"- Grayce1

Is This A Heart Attack or Is My Gallbladder Going to Explode?

You lay there in pain thinking 'Am I dying? Is this a heart attack, or is my gallbladder going to explode?' I have been having them periodically for years and have had two tests that were both 'non-conclusive.'

Until I have a test that shows a nonfunctioning gallbladder, my insurance carrier won't pay for surgery although my doctor says he is 99 percent sure that I need one. I can't eat things like broccoli, cabbage or lettuce.

I have cut way back on greasy food too (my favorite - I love fried chicken!). When I have one I drink some warm Coke (let it flatten a bit) and lie perfectly still. I also chews Tums. It helps a little but not a lot. They are indeed awful and you may find that as time goes on you will start feeling ill and nauseous right in the middle of a meal. I've been going through that also." - TALLU1