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The gallbladder is a small organ that helps in the process of digestion. The primary function of the gallbladder is to store a digestive liquid called bile, which is produced by the liver. If this bile hardens or crystallizes, painful stones may develop in the gallbladder. A few lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, may help to prevent a gallstone attack. In patients who are prone to having gallbladder problems, medications may be prescribed by the doctor to help prevent the chances of a future gallstone attack.
A gallstone attack typically causes pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen. This pain may also radiate upward to the right shoulder. If this pain lasts longer than five hours or if nausea and vomiting accompany the pain, a doctor should be seen immediately. In some cases, the gallbladder may need to be surgically removed.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important step in trying to prevent a gallstone attack. Patients who are overweight have a greater chance of developing gallstones. Rapid weight loss may also cause gallstones to form, so it is important to lose weight slowly and responsibly. The gallbladder patient should consult a doctor when attempting to develop a healthy eating plan.
Eating certain foods may help to prevent a gallbladder attack. Some healthy choices for patients with gallbladder issues include sweet potatoes, green beans, and grapes. Avocados, lemons, and tomatoes are good choices in maintaining a healthy gallbladder as well.
Patients with gallbladder issues are often advised to avoid certain foods in order to prevent a gallstone attack. Some of these foods often include any fried foods or foods containing saturated fats. Eggs and dairy products may trigger a gallbladder attack in some patients. Gluten, a wheat-based protein, is often a trigger for those with gallbladder problems, as is cabbage. Chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine may also need to be avoided.
Some patients who are particularly prone to developing gallstones may be prescribed a medication that is aimed at dissolving the stones and preventing future attacks. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes several years of therapy with this type of medication for the stones to be dissolved enough to no longer cause problems. There may also be uncomfortable medication side effects, including stomach discomfort and diarrhea. The patient should discuss all possible treatment options as well as potential side effects with a doctor before deciding upon the proper type of individualized treatment.