Biliary colic is the direct result of gallstones in the gall bladder or in the bile ducts leading from the liver. It is identified by characteristic sharp, cramping pains in the upper right abdomen, accompanied by nausea. Biliary colic is best understood as the symptom of a deeper ailment. While there are foods you can eat to minimise its effects, recurrence is likely until problems with the gall bladder are directly addressed.
Gallstones and Biliary Colic
Understanding biliary colic requires some knowledge of gallstones themselves. They are formed when bile, which is used by the body to help digest fats, hardens inside the body's bile storage centre, the gall bladder. Most gallstones are made from solidified cholesterol, and they vary in size from a grain of salt to a golf ball. Gallstones are generally too small to pose any real problems, and typically exist undetected in the gall bladder. But when larger stones develop, they can easily block the gall bladder's entrances and exits, cutting off the flow of bile and creating conditions that can lead to biliary colic.
Attacks of biliary colic are frequently triggered by meals containing lots of fat or cholesterol. They tend to happen at night, primarily because gallstones are more likely to cause blockages when you are lying down. The intense nausea and pain of a biliary attack are hard to ignore; if you experience an attack, you will likely feel motivated to seek medical attention. It is definitely in your best interest to do so.
While a lot of different factors influence gallstone formation --- including obesity, age, sex and family history --- diet stands out as a main contributor. Part of this effect stems from your diet's influence on your weight. But even for non-obese individuals, eating foods with high fat and cholesterol can increase chances of gallstone-related problems. Not surprisingly, diets that are high in fibre and low in fat and cholesterol are generally helpful in preventing gallstone problems from developing.
Foods For Prevention
If you want to prevent recurrence of biliary colic, your best chance is to eat high-fibre foods like peas, lentils, beans, raspberries, whole-wheat pasta, artichokes and barley. High-fibre dietary supplements will also help. Combine this approach with an avoidance of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods like butter, cheese and many types of meat. Consult your doctor or a nutritionist for a complete list of helpful and harmful foods.
Unfortunately for sufferers of biliary colic, once gallstones are present, dietary prevention measures do not have a high rate of success. Modifying your diet will help diminish your symptoms in the short run, and in some cases are sufficient to prevent recurrence of problems. However, despite dietary changes, roughly 70 per cent of patients will experience repeated bouts of the ailment.
Dealing with Your Gallstones
The only truly effective way to deal with biliary colic is to seek treatment for your gallstones. Methods of gallstone removal include sound wave therapy (lithotripsy), which breaks gallstones apart, and oral medications like ursodiol and chenodiol that dissolve stones. But surgery still provides the most effective results. If you have biliary colic, your doctor will typically recommend this course of action. If you are unable or unwilling to undergo a surgical procedure, your doctor will likely prescribe painkillers for your short-term discomfort as well as a strict dietary regimen to diminish chances of future flare-ups.