In most cases, gallstones are treated only if you have symptoms. Your doctor will give you medicine for pain, nausea, and vomiting. You may be told to drink only clear liquids for a few days to give your gallbladder a rest. You should also avoid fatty or greasy foods. If you're in a lot of pain, you may be admitted to the hospital so you can get intravenous fluids (through your veins), pain medicine and antibiotics.
About 3 in 10 people who get biliary colic will not get another attack. In these cases, the stone dissolves or becomes dislodged on its own. Because of this, your doctor may advise a wait-and-see approach. If you are using the wait-and-see approach, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chance of having more gallstone attacks, such as:
- eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
- start a slow weight loss until you reach a healthy weight (avoid crash diets)
- drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated
- limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume
- keep a diary of food and symptoms to help you identify “trigger foods”
- avoid fatty foods and excess oils when cooking as these make the gallbladder squeeze and can bring on a painful attack.
An operation to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystecomy and is the most common way of treating gallstones. You can live a healthy life without your gallbladder. Read about gallbladder removal surgery.
Some people find eating a low-fat diet controls their symptoms of gallstones. However, if you have a fever, constant nausea or vomiting, or if you have jaundice (yellow eyes or skin), seek medical attention.
Remedies are advertised on the internet as being able to ‘cure’ or ‘pass’ gallstones. These usually involve drinking large amounts of oil and lemon juice. They do not work. Any apparent ‘success’ is because the symptoms from gallstones can be very rare, leading to the belief that a ‘cure’ has been achieved – until the next attack of pain.