Gallstones are not always a serious medical condition; many even continue living their day-to-day lives without removing them. Gallstones are hard deposits of cholesterol or bilirubin that form in the gallbladder.
They often do not cause symptoms, and you may not even know you have them until they are discovered during a routine examination. In other cases, gallstones may cause symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice. While treatment is not always necessary and living with gallstones is possible, here are eight things you should know if you have gallstones.
What Should You Avoid Eating When Living With Gallstones?
If you have gallstones, avoiding fatty foods, such as fried chicken or fish, greasy burgers, full-fat dairy products, and fatty cuts of meat is a good idea. These types of foods can make gallstone symptoms worse. Highly processed foods, like white bread and pastries, may also trigger gallstone pain.
Remember, gallstone attacks often happen after a meal, so it is important to be aware of trigger foods if you are prone to this condition.
Can Drinking Water Remove Gallstones?
There is a common belief that drinking water can dissolve gallstones naturally. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this idea. Gallstones are made of cholesterol and bile, which are not affected by water. So, unfortunately, drinking water is unlikely to dissolve gallstones. If you are worried about gallstones, it is best to talk to a doctor about treatment options.
Do Gallstones Pass Through Your Urine Or Stools?
In some cases, gallstones are passed through the stool without any complications. However, in rare cases, gallstones can be passed through urine. If you think you might have passed a gallstone through urine, contact your doctor so they can confirm the diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.
What Colour Is Your Stool If You Have Gallstones?
Gallstones can change the colour of your stool. If gallstones become lodged in the common bile duct, they can cause the stool to turn yellow or green. If it blocks the pancreatic duct, it can cause the stool to turn red or brown. When a gallstone gets stuck in a duct, it can be painful, may cause inflammation, and should be treated by a doctor.
What Is The Most Common Complication Of Living With Gallstones?
The most common complication of gallstones is cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gallbladder. Inflammation and infections may occur when a gallstone gets stuck in a bile duct.
Cholecystitis can be mild or severe and is typically treated with antibiotics and pain relievers. However, surgery may be necessary to remove the gallbladder if your cholecystitis is more severe.
How Do You Treat Gallstones Without Surgery?
Most of the time, treatment for gallstones typically involves surgical removal of the gallbladder, especially if there are complications like cholecystitis. However, some people may be able to treat their smaller gallstones without surgery. Other treatment options include changes in diet, lifestyle and medications to dissolve gallstones.
In some cases, gallstones may not cause any symptoms, show signs of complications and may not require treatment. However, it is important to speak with a doctor if you have gallstones so a proper diagnosis and treatment plan can be recommended.
What Happens If Gallstones Are Left Untreated?
Leaving gallstones untreated may lead to the gallstone getting stuck in a bile duct. This may create serious complications like bile duct inflammation, infection, and pancreatitis. On top of that, untreated gallstones also carry a higher risk of gallbladder cancer.
When Are Gallstones An Emergency?
Sometimes, gallstones may not cause any symptoms and are often discovered during an unrelated routine medical examination. However, if gallstones block a bile duct, they can cause severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice. In some cases, gallstones can also lead to life-threatening infections. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Now that you know the eight things to keep in mind if you’re living with gallstones, it’s important to recognise the signs of complications. A duct blockage can cause intense pain in your abdomen, specifically in the upper right or centre of your abdomen. You may also feel back pain between your shoulders. Complications will require medical assistance, and fortunately, they can be resolved through a safe surgical procedure.
If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them and contact our G&L Surgical staff for assistance.