Possible Gallstone with Biliary Colic (Presumed)

115786enYour abdominal pain is may be due to spasm of the gallbladder. This is called gallbladder or biliary colic. The gallbladder is a small sac under the liver, which stores and releases bile. Bile is a fluid that aids in the digestion of fat. Eating fatty food stimulates the gallbladder to contract, and release the bile. A gallstone may form in this sac. Although most people don't have symptoms, when the stone moves and blocks the passage of bile out of the bladder, it can cause pain and even an infection.

To be more certain of the diagnosis, you may need to have an ultrasound, CT-scan or other special test.

A number of things increase the risk for developing gallstones:

  • Being female

  • Obesity

  • Increasing age

  • Losing or gaining weight quickly

  • High calorie diet

  • Pregnancy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Diabetes

The most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain, cramping, aching

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Fever

Many illnesses can cause these symptoms. This pain usually starts in the upper right side of your abdomen. Sometimes it can radiate to your right shoulder, back and arm. It usually starts suddenly, becomes more intense quickly, and then gradually decreases and disappears over a couple of hours. Elderly people and diabetics may have trouble showing where the pain is exactly. The pain may occur after meals, especially a high fat meal.

Home care

  • Rest in bed and follow a clear liquid diet until feeling better. If pain or nausea medicine was given to help with your symptoms, take these as directed.

  • You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, unless you were given a different pain medicine to use. Note: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding or are taking blood thinner medicines, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.

  • Fat in your diet makes the gallbladder contract and may cause increased pain. Therefore, limit fat in your diet over the next 2 days and follow a low-fat diet after that. If you are overweight, a low fat diet will help you lose weight.

Follow-up care

If a test was already scheduled for you, keep this appointment. Be sure you know how to prepare yourself for the test. Usually, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before the test. Schedule an appointment with your own healthcare provider after your test is complete to discuss the findings. Biliary colic tends to recur and so treatment is usually needed. This treatment usually includes surgical removal of the gallbladder, called a cholecystectomy.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider if any of the following occur:

  • Pain gets worse or moves to the right lower abdomen

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Swelling of the abdomen

  • Pain lasts over 6 hours

  • Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Weakness, dizziness

  • Dark urine or light colored stools

  • Yellow color of the skin or eyes

  • Chest, arm, back, neck or jaw pain

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Very confused

  • Very drowsy or trouble awakening

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

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