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What is the difference between food poisoning and gallstone attack?

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Posted on Fri, 20 May 2016
Question: gallstones run in my family. How do I know the difference between food poisoning and a gallstone attack?

I was unable to get comfortable the other night. I had severe pain in my upper back and then it moved to the center of my upper abdomen. the back pain was mild compared to the abdomen pain. I had the chills and lost all color. Eventually I vomited a little, but the pain continued. After a few hours the pain was mild enough I was able to fall asleep. I have felt better since.

I eat healthy, I didn't have anything fatty to eat that day. I am in great health and teach aerobic classes daily.

About a year ago, I had a similar experience, and I assumed it was food poisoning.
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Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Gall stone pain is in upper mid abdomen and can stay for 1 to 5 hours

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thanks for writing in to us.

I have read through your query in detail.
Please find my observations below.

1. Gall stones can cause pain which is variable and might range from non specific abdominal discomfort and pain to a significant well localized pain with rebound tenderness and guarding in the gall bladder are which is right upper abdomen with associated fever, tachycardia and vomiting.

2. Some people might have mild symptoms due to gall stones including indigestion, bloating and belching which is especially after a fatty meal.

3. The typical pain in gall stone starts after food and is dull which increases over 30 minutes and then can stay for 1 to 5 hours. Pain is not relieved by vomiting and taking medicines for acidity.

4. Food poisoning pain starts from 6 to 72 hours after ingestion and is non specific depending on the agent causing it. Some people report nausea and vomiting and diarrhea.

5. It can really get difficult to differentiate between a gall stone pain and food poisoning in many people and therefore an ultrasound scan is recommended. In gall stones we usually see ultrasound features of gall bladder wall inflammation with stones in gall bladder lumen and many times a stone stuck can be found in the neck of the gall bladder. Some people might also have features of biliary obstruction and a dilated common bile duct.

In conclusion, you can get an ultrasound scan done to know if you have any gall stones and discuss on getting treated if you have any. Since your pain did not respond to peptobismol and charcoal tablets and you have gall stone in your family therefore it is recommended to get an ultrasound scan done.

Hope your query is answered.
Please do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Vivek Chail

Radiologist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 6812 Questions

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What is the difference between food poisoning and gallstone attack?

Brief Answer: Gall stone pain is in upper mid abdomen and can stay for 1 to 5 hours Detailed Answer: Hi, Thanks for writing in to us. I have read through your query in detail. Please find my observations below. 1. Gall stones can cause pain which is variable and might range from non specific abdominal discomfort and pain to a significant well localized pain with rebound tenderness and guarding in the gall bladder are which is right upper abdomen with associated fever, tachycardia and vomiting. 2. Some people might have mild symptoms due to gall stones including indigestion, bloating and belching which is especially after a fatty meal. 3. The typical pain in gall stone starts after food and is dull which increases over 30 minutes and then can stay for 1 to 5 hours. Pain is not relieved by vomiting and taking medicines for acidity. 4. Food poisoning pain starts from 6 to 72 hours after ingestion and is non specific depending on the agent causing it. Some people report nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. 5. It can really get difficult to differentiate between a gall stone pain and food poisoning in many people and therefore an ultrasound scan is recommended. In gall stones we usually see ultrasound features of gall bladder wall inflammation with stones in gall bladder lumen and many times a stone stuck can be found in the neck of the gall bladder. Some people might also have features of biliary obstruction and a dilated common bile duct. In conclusion, you can get an ultrasound scan done to know if you have any gall stones and discuss on getting treated if you have any. Since your pain did not respond to peptobismol and charcoal tablets and you have gall stone in your family therefore it is recommended to get an ultrasound scan done. Hope your query is answered. Please do write back if you have any doubts. Regards,