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Gallstones, Gallbladder Attacks, and Older Americans


Dr. Rodgers explains what a gallbladder attack is, and what the symptoms are.

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You’ve heard about heart attacks, but have you heard of gallbladder attacks?

Hi, I’m Dr. Griffin Rodgers, bringing you Healthy Moments. I’m the Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at NIH.

A gallbladder attack refers to the sudden pain that can be caused by gallstones, which are like little pebbles that form in the gallbladder. Women and people over 60 are more likely to develop gallstones.

Your gallbladder sits just below your liver and helps with digestion. Symptoms of a gallbladder attack can include sudden pain

  • in the upper abdomen that lasts from 30 minutes to several hours.
  • in the back between the shoulder blades.
  • or, under the right shoulder.

If you think you’ve had a gallbladder attack, see a doctor. While attacks often pass, you can still be at risk for problems. If you’re having frequent attacks, your doctor may recommend surgery.

For more information, follow us on Twitter @NIDDKgov. This is Dr. Griffin Rodgers with the NIH.

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