The most common symptom of gall stones is pain in the stomach underneath the ribs. The pain starts suddenly in the center of the stomach and can spread to the upper shoulder blade or back. The pain can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours and makes it difficult to move around or get comfortable. Pain can occur after meals or at night while sleeping. Gall stone pain may cause vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite. Sometimes gall stones will block the bile duct, symptoms of this include: dark urine, yellowing of the skin, fever and chills, and light colored stools. These symptoms are similar to other conditions like food poisoning, stomach flu, and diarrhea. Stomach pain that isn’t constant and occurs with vomiting is more likely to be caused by the flu rather than gall stones. Many people with gall stones may not experience any symptoms at all and they may not even need treatment. Those that do experience symptoms will often undergo surgery to take out the gallbladder. Gall stone symptoms are usually not severe the first time and the doctor may decide treatment is not necessary because symptoms can go away on their own.
Eating Right- Individuals at risk for gall stones can try modifying their diet to prevent symptoms from occurring. It is important to consume soluble and insoluble fiber because it helps control cholesterol. Eating fruits and vegetables is important because they are enriched with fiber and healthy nutrients. According to research at the Harvard School of Public Health, drinking coffee has been said to decrease the risk of gall stones. The research was conducted on 46,000 men who drank two to three cups of coffee a day. Results stated that these men had lowered their risk of gall stones by 40 percent. Men who drank 4 cups of coffee a day, lower their chances by 45 percent.
Exercise – Regular exercise also decreases the chances of gall stones. A study published on WebMD stated that men who participated in physical activities such as running or walking 5 times a week for 30 minutes, reduce their risk for gallbladder disease by 34 percent. Results were based more on intensity rather than type of exercise. It is theorized that exercise regulates insulin and blood sugar levels. If blood sugar and insulin levels are high, it contributes to gall stones.
Medication – Some research says that taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin help prevent the formation of gall stones. Another is option is a medication called Actigall. This is the first drug approved by the FDA to help prevent gall stones and has been used carefully on certain patients.