Gallbladder Pain : Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment


The gallbladder is inflamed with cholecystitis. The gallbladder is a little, pear-shaped organ located beneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen. Bile, a digestive fluid stored in the gallbladder, is discharged into the small intestine.

Cholecystitis is typically brought on by gallstones blocking the gallbladder's exit tube. As a result, bile builds up and may cause inflammation. Additionally, bile duct issues, tumours, major illnesses, and specific infections are causes of cholecystitis.

Cholecystitis can cause serious, occasionally life-threatening complications, such a ruptured gallbladder, if it is not addressed. Cholecystitis is commonly treated by having the gallbladder surgically removed.


When your gallbladder is inflamed, you have cholecystitis. The following factors might cause gallbladder inflammation:

Gallstones. Usually, hard particles that develop in your gallbladder cause cholecystitis (gallstones). The duct (cystic duct) via which bile exits in the gallbladder can become blocked by gallstones. Inflammation results from the gallbladder's bile accumulation.

Tumour. Bile may not adequately drain from your gallbladder if you have a tumour. Cholecystitis may result from the accumulation of bile caused by this.

Bile duct obstruction. Stones, thickened bile, or tiny particles can clog the bile ducts, resulting in cholecystitis (sludge). A blockage may also result from the bile ducts becoming kinked or scarred.

Infection. Gallbladder inflammation can be brought on by AIDS and specific viral diseases.

Serious illness. Blood vessels may be harmed by very serious illnesses and can  cause cholecystitis by reducing blood supply to the gallbladder.

How to check if you have Gallbladder Pain?

If you have symptoms that alarm you, schedule a visit with your doctor. Have someone transport you to the emergency hospital if your abdominal discomfort is so intense that you are unable to sit still or find a comfortable position.

Risk Factors

The biggest risk factor for cholecystitis is gallstones.


Cholecystitis symptoms can include:

  • Severe abdominal discomfort in your upper right or centre
  • Your right shoulder or back is in pain.
  • When touched, your abdomen feels tender.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Cholecystitis symptoms typically emerge following a meal, particularly one that is heavy or fatty.


By adopting the following precautions to avoid gallstones, you can lower your risk of developing cholecystitis:

Slowly lose weight. Gallstone risk can rise with rapid weight loss.

Keep a healthy weight. You are more likely to get gallstones if you are overweight. Reduce your calorie intake and increase your physical activity to reach a healthy weight. Continue to eat sensibly and exercise to keep your weight at a healthy level.

Pick a balanced diet. Gallstones may be more likely to develop on diets that are high in fat and poor in fibre. To lower your risk, choose a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


The most common kind of cholecystitis treatment involves a hospital stay to reduce gallbladder inflammation. Surgery is sometimes required.

While you are in the hospital, your healthcare provider will strive to manage your symptoms. Treatments could consist of:

  • Fasting. Initially, you might not be permitted to eat or drink anything to relieve the pressure on your inflamed gallbladder.
  • Liquids through a vein in your arm. Dehydration can be avoided with this treatment.
  • Infection-fighting antibiotics. In the event that your gallbladder is infected, your doctor will probably suggest antibiotics.
  • Medicines for pain. While the gallbladder is still inflamed, it can help with pain management.
  • Method for removing stones. You might undergo an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). In this operation, the bile ducts are highlighted with dye-using equipment.
  • Bile duct drainage. Gallbladder drainage (cholecystostomy) may be performed in some circumstances, such as when surgery to remove the gallbladder is not an option, to clear the infection. Drainage is carried out either by putting a scope via the mouth or through the skin of the belly (percutaneous) (endoscopic).

Your symptoms should become better in two to three days. Gallbladder inflammation, however, frequently returns. Most cholecystitis sufferers eventually require gallbladder removal surgery.

Surgery to remove the gallbladder

Cholecystectomy refers to the surgery used to remove the gallbladder. Typically, this is a minimally invasive surgery that only requires a few small abdominal incisions (laparoscopic cholecystectomy). This is an open surgery where a lengthy incision is made in your abdomen.

Your symptom severity and total risk of complications during and after surgery will determine when you should have surgery. If your risk for surgery is low, surgery might be done while you are in the hospital.

Bile no longer needs to be kept in the gallbladder once it has been removed; instead, it passes directly from the liver into the small intestine. You can digest food even if your gallbladder is not working.

Complications of Gallbladder Pain

Cholecystitis can have a number of dangerous problems if left untreated, such as:

Internal infection of the gallbladder. Bile may become infectious if it accumulates in your gallbladder and causes cholecystitis.

Tissue in the gallbladder dies. The gallbladder's tissue may die if cholecystitis is left untreated (gangrene). It is the most frequent consequence, particularly in elderly individuals, those who put off seeking treatment, and diabetics. This might cause your gallbladder to burst or even tear.

Gallbladder rupture. Your gallbladder may tear (perforate) as a result of gallbladder enlargement, infection, or tissue degeneration.

Pain from the gallbladder is not just discomfort. Some of the more minor issues  that can arise are as follows:

  • Discomfort whilst eating
  •  weight loss
  •  imbalances in electrolytes
  • disruption of routine tasks brought on by painkiller usage.

Gallbladder pain can lead to more severe side effects which include:

  • Biliary duct obstruction 
  • Severe infections (empyema and gangrene of the gallbladder)
  • Rare cases of peritonitis
  • Gallbladder malignancy
  • Pancreatitis


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Page last reviewed: Mar 14, 2023

Next review due: Mar 14, 2025

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