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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can gallstones cause shortness of breath?

    In the past 3 weeks, my tummy near my gallbladder feels very heavy. It feels like I cannot digest properly and I burp after meals. All the muscles and tendons on the right side of my back up to my front shoulder are very tense and sore. I am unable to breathe properly. I have no acute pain in the gallbladder area, I am only experiencing a very heavy and uneasy feeling.

    Are these symptoms related to my gallstones?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Dr Jason Wong

    Bariatric (Obesity) Surgeon, General Surgeon, Laparoscopic Surgeon, Upper GI Surgeon (Abdominal)

    Jason Wong is a skilled Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon with expertise in sleeve and gastric bypass surgery, gallbladder, hernia, endoscopic pilonidal, antireflux and emergency general ... View Profile

    Whilst gallstones are a common cause of upper abdominal pain - it is not the only cause of upper abdominal pain or right upper abdominal pain. Furthermore, just because you have gallstones does not necessarily mean that they are the cause of your symptoms.  One should never assume things as this is the worst mistake in medicine.

    The description of your symptoms do not sound like any one thing in particular and sound more like a collection of symptoms:

    1. "Cannot digest properly and burping after meals" - many reasons that this sensation may occur and would need to clarify what is meant by not digesting properly. Eating too fast, aerophagia, anxiety, stress are some non-pathological reasons for these symptoms. They are not typical symptoms of gallstones.

    2. Tense muscles are not a typical symptom of gallstones - certainly sounds more musculoskeletal.

    3. Unable to breathe properly - not a typical symptom of gallstones and only a problem related to gallstones when have cholecystitis and peritonism.

    I would recommend visiting your usual GP to get some investigations performed and if stress is a particular issue at the moment which certainly can lead to some of the symptoms you are experiencing, counselling and stress management techniques may be helpful.

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