Illustration depicting symptoms of a gallbladder attack including abdominal pain and nausea.

What Does a Gallbladder Attack Feel Like

Gallbladder attacks can be a distressing experience for those who suffer from them. The intense pain and discomfort associated with a gallbladder attack can significantly impact daily life and may require medical intervention. In this article, we will explore what a gallbladder attack feel like, the possible causes behind it, and the available treatment options.

What Does a Gallbladder Attack Feel Like?

An inflammation or blockage of the gallbladder results in a gallbladder attack. The main purpose of the gallbladder, a little organ situated under the liver, is to hold the bile that the liver produces. In the small intestine, bile aids in the breakdown of lipids. A gallbladder attack may result from an obstruction of the bile flow or from inflammation of the gallbladder.

Symptoms of a Gallbladder Attack

The symptoms of a gallbladder attack can vary in intensity but often include:

  1. Severe abdominal pain: The most common symptom of a gallbladder attack is intense pain in the upper right or center of the abdomen. The pain may radiate to the back or shoulder blades and can last for several hours.
  2. Nausea and vomiting: Many people experiencing a gallbladder attack may also feel nauseous and may vomit as a result of the intense pain.
  3. Fever and chills: In some cases, a gallbladder attack may be accompanied by a fever and chills, indicating an infection or inflammation of the gallbladder.
  4. Jaundice: The yellowing of the skin and eyes is known as jaundice, and it can result from a gallstone obstructing the bile duct.
  5. Abdominal bloating and indigestion: Some individuals may experience bloating, gas, and indigestion during a gallbladder attack.

Causes of Gallbladder Attacks

Gallbladder attacks are often caused by the presence of gallstones, which are hardened deposits of bile that form in the gallbladder. Gallstones can vary in size and number and may block the flow of bile, leading to inflammation and pain. Other factors that can increase the risk of gallbladder attacks include:

  1. Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing gallstones and experiencing gallbladder attacks.
  2. Rapid weight loss: Crash diets or rapid weight loss can also increase the risk of gallstone formation and gallbladder attacks.
  3. Poor diet: A diet high in cholesterol and fat and low in fiber can contribute to the formation of gallstones.
  4. Certain medical conditions: Gallbladder attacks can be more likely in those with diabetes, liver illness, and several blood diseases.
  5. Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of gallstone formation and gallbladder attacks.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you experience symptoms of a gallbladder attack, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare provider will typically perform a physical examination and may order tests such as ultrasound, blood tests, or a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for a gallbladder attack may include:

  1. Pain management: Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications may be prescribed to help alleviate the pain associated with a gallbladder attack.
  2. Fluids and rest: Drinking plenty of fluids and getting adequate rest can help ease symptoms and promote healing.
  3. Anti-inflammatory medications: In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  4. Surgery: If gallstones are causing recurrent gallbladder attacks or complications such as inflammation or infection, surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) may be recommended.
  5. Lifestyle changes: Making dietary changes, such as reducing fat and cholesterol intake and increasing fiber consumption, can help prevent future gallbladder attacks.

Preventing Gallbladder Attacks

While not all gallbladder attacks can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight: Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of gallstone formation and gallbladder attacks.
  2. Eat a healthy diet: Focus on consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and limit your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent the formation of gallstones and keep bile flowing smoothly.
  4. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of gallbladder attacks.
  5. Avoid rapid weight loss: Gradual, sustainable weight loss is less likely to lead to gallstone formation than rapid weight loss methods.


Gallbladder attacks can be a painful and debilitating experience, but with prompt medical attention and appropriate treatment, most people can find relief from their symptoms. By understanding the causes of gallbladder attacks and taking steps to reduce your risk, you can help prevent future episodes and maintain your overall health and well-being. If you experience symptoms of a gallbladder attack, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention to receive the care and treatment you need.

Janvi Dhiman holds a Master's degree in Biotechnology and has a background in both undergraduate and postgraduate studies from Amity University, Noida. Her passion lies in making meaningful contributions to the healthcare and research sectors. Currently, she is a valued member of our team, serving as a Research Analyst and a medical content writer at DiseaseInfoHub.

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