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Why You Shouldn't Ignore These Warning Signs of Gallstones

Why You Shouldn't Ignore These Warning Signs of Gallstones

Your gallbladder rests just between the liver and pancreas. Its job is to store bile that, when released into the intestines, helps digest fats.

The bile is made up of cholesterol, bile salts, and water. These substances can sometimes pack together and form gallstones, which can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. 

Gallstones affect almost 25 million people but don’t always cause symptoms or problems. 

Our surgical team at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, located in Jackson, Mississippi, sees a lot of patients experiencing severe pain due to gallstones. While you can’t halt a gallstone attack mid-event, we can help ease symptoms with medications. 

Recurrent attacks require surgery to remove the gallbladder and prevent complications.

Pain of a gallstone attack

Gallstones can clog the duct, or tube, that allows bile to flow out of the stomach. Your gallbladder then spasms, causing significant pain. Some people describe it like you’re being cut by a knife right under the rib cage on the upper right side or center of the abdomen. You might even mistake the pain for a heart attack — so it’s best to seek immediate care.

You may notice the pain comes on suddenly or appears after a meal. The pain may last several minutes or a few hours. Don’t ignore it; call our office right away for an appointment. 

Nausea and vomiting

If you experience sudden nausea and vomiting after a full meal, contact our office. That is an indication that the gallstone has gotten stuck in a duct that keeps your digestive enzymes flowing. 

Heartburn

Heartburn-like symptoms are another sign of gallstones. You may experience acid reflux and cramping, too, but mistake it for simple indigestion. If it’s recurring or accompanied by other symptoms of gallstones, contact us to get an accurate diagnosis.

Light-colored stools and brownish urine

The compound known as bilirubin breaks down during the digestive process. It makes your urine yellow and stool brown. If your urine is brownish despite being hydrated or stools pale in color, it’s an indication that the bile duct is blocked. Contact us immediately for diagnosis and gallstone treatment. 

Fever and chills

If you have heartburn, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain along with fever and chills, it’s a sign that your gallbladder is completely blocked by a stone. The blockage has led to an infection, which could be fatal if not treated. 

Prevention and treatment of gallstones

If we detect gallstones, but you aren’t ready for surgery, some dietary changes could help your gallbladder health. Avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats. You’ll also need to skip processed foods and simple carbohydrates like white sugar and bread. 

Fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, healthy fats from nuts and fish, and plant-based proteins should make up the bulk of your diet. 

If you have symptomatic gallstones, surgery is usually required. We may remove your entire gallbladder in a minimally invasive procedure called cholecystectomy. If we find gallstones in the bile ducts, we will also recommend they be removed — even if you’re not yet experiencing symptoms.

If you suspect you have gallstones, make a call to Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, in Jackson, Mississippi. You may also request an appointment using the online scheduler.  

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