62. Gallstones: What They Feel Like, What You Can Do

Have you been feeling bloated and gassy for the past couple of months, especially after eating fried or other fatty foods? Do you suffer bouts of pain in the upper right side of your abdomen that last up to several hours?

Symptoms like that could be caused by stones in the gallbladder. For some, gallstones cause no symptoms. In others, stones cause severe pain and require medical treatment.

In industrialized countries, the most common type of gallstone consists of cholesterol, the same fat that tends to clog coronary arteries in many people. Doctors aren’t sure why gallstones form, but some people are clearly more susceptible than others.

Factors that invite gallstones to form include:

  1. A family history of gallbladder disease.

  2. Obesity and/or very rapid weight loss.

  3. Middle age.

  4. Being female.

  5. Multiple pregnancies.

  6. Taking estrogen.

  7. Diabetes.

  8. Eating a diet high in cholesterol-rich foods.

  9. Diseases of the small intestine.

Treatments for gallstones range from medications (to dissolve the stones), surgery (to remove the gallbladder), or a low-fat diet (to reduce contractions of the gallbladder, thus limiting pain, and possibly keeping more stones from forming). Treatment may involve the use of guided sound waves to dissolve the stones.

Dietary measures to discourage stones from forming include the following:

  1. Follow a high fiber, low-fat, low cholesterol diet.

  2. Get to and stay at your ideal body weight. If you are overweight, lose weight slowly (1 to 1-1/2 pounds per week). Do not follow a rapid weight loss diet, unless under strict medical guidance.

Chapter 2
  1. Major Medical Conditions:

  2. Prevention, Detection, and Treatment