image

Gallstones – the facts

Many of us have gallstones but what exactly are they and how can they be treated?

What are gallstones?

The purpose of the gallbladder is to store bile which is a substance produced by the liver to enable our bodies to efficiently digest fats, the gallbladder then releases bile into the digestive system as it is required.  Gallstones are lumps of digestive fluid – usually cholesterol – that form in the gallbladder.  These are typically small gravel like stones that don’t cause any pain.  In fact, most people are unaware they have them and may only ever be found by chance during the investigation of an unrelated condition.

There are however times when symptoms can occur and the most common of these is pain in the abdomen.

Symptoms of gallstones

Sudden, acute abdominal pain may result if one of the stones moves and blocks a bile duct.  This pain can last from 1 to 5 hours and is located in the centre of your tummy between the breast bone and tummy button or just under your right ribs with a sharp pain spreading to the side or shoulder blade.

The pain may be triggered after eating fatty foods, although it has also been reported to wake sufferers up at night.  Other symptoms may include feeling nauseous, vomiting or sweating.

More serious symptoms may be more persistent pain, a high temperature (or ’flu like symptoms), rapid heartbeat, jaundice, itchy skin, diarrhoea, confusion and a loss of appetite.  These symptoms suggest inflammation of the gallbladder or infection and is known as acute cholecystitis.

Treatment for gallstones

If gallstones have been discovered incidentally and there are no obvious symptoms then your GP would not necessarily recommend any treatment but would monitor your situation.

Some people only have one attack, in which case painkillers would be prescribed.  This would also be the case for mild on-going attacks.

However, if symptoms persist or deteriorate, especially if there is pain lasting longer than 2 hours with a high temperature or jaundice it is important to be seen by a medical professional as swiftly as possible.

Acute inflammation of the gallbladder often means being admitted into hospital where antibiotics and pain relief will be given.  Once the inflammation or infection has been managed successfully then keyhole surgery may be performed to remove the gallbladder.

How to self-manage gallstones

If you only suffer occasional symptoms then if may be a good idea to keep a diary of when the symptoms occur, this will help you to recognise any triggers and also recognise if your symptoms are deteriorating.

There is no special diet for people with gallstones but it is important to eat healthily to keep yourself feeling well.  A low fat diet to avoid irritating your digestive system is recommended along with plenty of fruit and vegetables.  It is also sensible to avoid salty foods and to eat high-fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta.

It is also a good idea to maintain a healthy weight and take plenty of exercise.

Read more here on how to keep a healthy gut along with exercises to aid digestion and for more general information on gallstones from the NHS

Disclaimer
All content on Silversurfers.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on www.silversurfers.com and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a health related question of your own - about your or your family's health, medication or upcoming procedures, for example - you can also access their, "Ask the Expert" service. Available around the clock, 365 days a year this free resource allows you to ask the team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives and pharmacists about any health concerns you may have - whenever you need them, 24 hours a day, every day. Please get in touch now.

Click below to submit your question online.

ASK THE EXPERT

The following two tabs change content below.

AXA PPP healthcare

The more you know about your body and how you can look after it, the healthier you are – and the stronger and bolder you become. That’s why we never stop looking for ways to support your health. We want to give you the tools and knowledge you need to take care of yourself – so you’re ready to face whatever the world brings.

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!