Biliary colic is an extreme cramping pain in the right upper abdomen, the area just below the chest. Touch the right part of your belly, now raise your hand until you bump against your ribs. Yep, right there.
The pain, though can irradiate and appear somewhere else, even in the back.
The pain is caused by gallstones in the gallbladder or bile ducts. The gallbladder can start contracting (and hurting you) when you eat fatty foods, when you expose yourself to cold air, when you lift weights... whenever it decides to. As an unfortunate friend recently reminded me, biliary colics can hit you even if you don't have gallstones. The gallbladder, that little green lightbulb of pain, can turn itself on even if there aren't little pebbles in it. Luckily I am past all that now.
The chief symptom is pain. It can range from a bellyache to pain that will make you want to jump out of a window.
It is accompanied by nausea; your blood pressure can also drop, leading to fainting. Fainting while you are throwing up is a very bad idea.
Throwing up appears to relieve the pain, a tiny bit, or at least it distracts the patient. It is only thanks to a biliary colic that I am now quite intimate with the bitterness of bile.
The pain can last an hour or more. Afterwards, you will be exhausted. If the colic has been severe, there may be jaundice.
Luckily gallstones and biliary sludge image quite well on ultrasound.
If you think you have had a biliary colic, run to a physician and have it diagnosed. Abdominal pain is a somewhat generic symptom, and only a physician can diagnose gallstones. There are various treatments that use drugs, and a couple of surgical options.
Whatever you do, don't ignore it or dismiss it as some kind of "indigestion".
You also want to read the excellent
writeups under "gallstone