Gallstones

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Gallstones are pieces of stone like substances that are made in the gallbladder. Most gallstones are made up of cholesterol or calcium salts. Biliary colic is when the small stones get stuck in the bile duct (tiny tubes that drain bile). Cholecystitis is when the “stuck stone” causes swelling and redness in the gallbladder.

Gallstones can cause no symptoms and require no treatment.

Ongoing signs and symptoms of gallbladder disease are:

  • chronic indigestion (heart burn)
  • nausea
  • gas
  • bloating
  • pain that comes and goes below the ribcage

A “gallbladder attack” can cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and a severe pain in the upper middle or upper right abdomen (stomach) that can last up to several hours.

Treatment for gallstones can vary from diet changes to surgery. Most surgery done is laparoscopic and requires little or no hospitalization.

Care at home

  • Avoid foods high in fat, especially animal fat (meat and dairy)
  • Read the labels on food to learn the ingredients
  • Eat regularly
  • Eat a low-fat, high fiber diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid crash diets

When to see a health care provider

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Clay coloured stools

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