General Question

Seek's avatar

How are gallbladder issues treated?

Asked by Seek (34734points) September 21st, 2010

Recently, I’ve been displaying the major symptoms of having gallbladdar attacks – upper abdominal pain, pain between the shoulder blades that is sometimes debilitating (worst at night), nausea, vomiting, belching…

I do not have health insurance, and I’m not certain if I qualify for Medicaid (the application is processing). Is there anything I can do to suppress these symptoms on my own?

It’s terrifying thinking that I might have to wait until this becomes an emergency to be treated – I have no way to pay for an expensive surgery. Even a visit to a family physician is unaffordable.

What can I do?

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20 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I take it you suspect a gall stone? My girlfriend knew someone who also did not have insurance. She went on a very strict fast for a week, and then drank a large amount (like a pint or so) of olive oil. The gall bladder produces bile to help processefat, and the olive oil overwhelmed the gall duct to expel the gall stone.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Diet modification is one of the best ways to help with gallbladder issues. Avoiding high fatty foods, fried foods, red meat, large meals at bedtime, and carbonated beverages can help. Fish oil supplements can help block cholesterol formation in bile. Switching to salad dressing with vinegar and olive oil can also help (so I’ve heard). Using ginger and turmeric in cooking can help with the digestion of fat and enhancing the flow of bile respectively. Increasing fiber may help as well. There are some foods that are believed to initiate gallbladder attacks. They are eggs, pork, onions, poultry, milk, coffee, oranges, corn, beans, and nuts. Cutting out all of them completely may be hard, but you can keep an eye on which foods you are eating and seem to cause problems for you and go from there. Good luck!

skfinkel's avatar

You can manage gall bladder issues (I don’t know about stones though) with diet. If you cut out fat, the gall bladder kind of shuts down and rests. Although I have also heard that eating olive oil is okay for the gall bladder, but that would be the only kind of fat. I cut out all fats for three months (not easy) and have had no problems with it since. I do eat fat now, as well—but never anything deep fried. Or donuts. Or anything that smells like that kind of awful deep fat.

JLeslie's avatar

Is your pain on the right side? You should feel it kind of center right, sort of under your breast, but of course pain can be everywhere with gall bladder, I am just worried it is something else possibly. Have you been constipated? Do you get relief after a bowel movement?

I know someone who did not want to have surgery and went on a very strict no fat diet, very strict. Her symptoms went under control, and she lost a lot of weight.

Frenchfry's avatar

I go to mayoclinic.com They have to home remedy advice. It also tells you when you absolutely should go to the doctor. Hope you feel better.

Rarebear's avatar

Certainly sounds like a gallbladder, especially if the pain is after you eat. Unfortunately, there are no medical treatments for biliary colic except for avoiding food that precipitates an attack. The treatment is to remove the gallbladder.

Seek's avatar

So… about the time my eyes turn yellow, should I assume it’s a big deal and worry about medical bills later?

Rarebear's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Your eyes are likely never to turn yellow, actually. But if they do, yes. be seen and worry about the medical bills later.

Basically it’s an issue of what you can tolerate. If you can avoid the pain by avoiding precipitating factors then you have time to wait until your Medicaid comes through. If you can’t control the pain, or the pain becomes constant, or you develop a fever then you’re stuck and you need to go to the ER.

Seek's avatar

I actually said that because I noticed they appeared yellow this afternoon. The lights in my house are weird, so I hadn’t noticed it before, and can only tell when I’m outside.

It all came on very quickly, but I can tell you I’m really scared. I just can’t afford to be sick. Unfortunately, that truth rarely acts as medicine.

Rarebear's avatar

Well, the only way I can reassure you is to tell you that gallbladder issues are routine and the surgery is also routine. I’m sorry about your financial situation. Bottom line is that if you’re in pain, you’ll need to go to the ER and sort the rest out later.

casheroo's avatar

I’ve heard gall stones are a pain like no other. They thought my father had a heart attack recently, but the only thing they could find was dilated tubes from the gall bladder..so they assume a stone went through and he got severely sick because of the intense pain. Many mothers have told me the pain is worse than childbirth which to me is hard to imagine!

I totally know what you mean about unaffordable healthcare :( And the sad part is, just seeing and talking to a doctor won’t do much..they’ll need an ultrasound or cat scan to confirm whatever the issue is :(
I hope it’s nothing, and that Medicaid goes through!

Seek's avatar

@casheroo It literally felt like someone was twisting a knife in my back.

I agree – worse than childbirth, and almost as bad as nearly bleeding to death. I couldn’t see, or move… very very painful. Fortunately it hasn’t come back but for five minutes or so the next day. I certainly haven’t eaten anything like the night before the attack (happened to be “breakfast for dinner” – bacon, eggs, pancakes. Ooh, boy.)

Still kind of hoping it’ll just go away, though I’ll be paying much closer attention to what I put in my mouth. If the pain does come back, even a little bit, it’s to the hopstipal I go.

Rarebear's avatar

What you’re experiencing is called a colicky type pain. It’s compression of a sack against an obstruction. It’s why childbirth hurts, and why gallbladder pain hurt. It’s also why, if you have bad diarrhea, you’ll get abdominal pain before you go poo.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You might want to see how much it is for a scheduled ultrasound, and see if you can work out a payment schedule, it will be much cheaper than an ER sonogram. The thing I would keep in mind is the sonogram will basically confirm what you probably know, that you have some gall stones (after hearing more of your description, worse than childbirth, I think it is indeed very likely to be your gall bladder) but the ultrasound isn’t going to cure you unfortunately. The thing is the hospital will do just that, diagnose it with an ultrasound and give you pain medication. My husband had his gallbladder attacks come and go twice, and then the third happened while he was in the states. We went to the ER that night, he was in tremendous pain, and they suggested surgery. He was living outside of the country, so he opted to do the surgery, not wanting possible emergency surgery in Bogota. But, I should mention that by the time the surgery was scheduled, the attack had ended on it’s own again.

I think the biggest fear would be if the duct become obstructed for an extended period of time, or if it becomes infected I would think that could become life threatening, but I would guess you would run a fever in that case.

flutherother's avatar

I can’t help much but I would get someone to check it out if at all possible. You might even find that there is a Walmart store nearby that could give you some health advice. I take in you are in the USA?

JLeslie's avatar

@flutherother I don’t think Walmart would help. I dont think they have an ultrasound machine? Walmart is good for getting the prescription you basically already know you need.

Rarebear's avatar

She wouldn’t be able to get an ultrasound without a physician (or FNP, PA) order, so she’d need to see someone first anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

That’s true, so maybe the walmart doc, if that is cheaper, can do the referral. Sometimes I think it kind of sucks people can’t just pay for the screening they want without an order from a doctor, if the screening is basically no risk. Like, let me get a throat culture if I have had strep before, or check my vitamin D, cholesterol, or thyroid if I want to.

lloydbird's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Sorry to hear about your predicament. This kind of thing, really brings home the harsh reality of the ‘Healthcare’ system that you have over there in the US. Cost of treatment just isn’t an obstacle that needs to be considered by an ailing person here in the UK.
The only advice that I can offer is that you don’t forget to look down the Herbal self help route. Hope it helps and wishing you good luck.

lloydbird's avatar

A bit more looking around on the subject has provided me with this nugget.
Inspired by one of my books, incidentally.

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