I was recently diagnosed with gallstones. I have 3 small ones. I had my first and only attack a few weeks ago. I have been referred to a surgeon who wants to remove my gall bladder. Are there any alternatives, I.e. homes remedies, supplements, medication, etc. do I have to have surgery now? I hear so many side effects and possible higher risks to colon cancer due the surgery. Is that true? What about changing my diet before removing the gallbladder? I also have read people have the same symptoms after surgery. Can I live with these few stones if I am not in pain anymore? Will the stones grow rapidly? Can I avoid surgery at all? Is it safe not to have the surgery? I an a wreck. I am 42 years old and am wondering about the long term effects. I see a lot of bad side effects right after surgery ! What about later? Increased liver problems. Please she'd some light. I am scared to have surgery to begin with.e
The home remedies I've heard of, honestly sound a little bonkers. Most of them are a long the lines of liver cleaning diets. And because of that the idea is to force everything out of your gallbladder, which can make one of those gallstones get stuck, infected and then you need an emergency surgery. I'm not one for alternative medicine but, like you, I didn't want to face surgery. And I got my first attack at 23, I mean I haven't had that organ for very long, I'd like to keep it in me. Anyway, I went to a naturopath, she said that she wanted to try lowering my cholesterol naturally (at that time I had elevated but not dangerous levels of cholesterol) and see if that would help my gallbladder. It didn't. But I didn't stick with it for very long either.
Some people may be able to change their diet and never have a problem again. But I think those people are rare and I am most definitely not one of them.
For the past 1.5 years I've been trying to deal with it my own. I eat about 1400 calories average a day, with 25 grams of fat. Any more fat and I will get sick. I have had a total of 8 attacks that have sent me to the hospital and about a dozen more that I deemed weren't bad enough. That being said, my gallbladder has only gotten worse with each passing day. I didn't used to be as bad as I was now. Now, I have chronic explosive stools and gas that are just horrifying. I get anxiety at the mention of going out to eat because there is an 90% probability I will get sick from whatever I eat. I eat nothing fried, no dairy, no red meats, no pork, no alcohol, nothing with more than 1 TEASPOON of oil, very few nuts, low sugar, nothing spicy, no more than 100g of chicken breast in a day, no oily fish, nothing high in acidity.. and I'm in hell. I spend about 2-3 nights a week in pain, nauseated, bloated, and/or gassy. For me, no matter what happens post op, the day to day will be better than it is right now.
Right after operation it's not uncommon for people to be still very sensitive to fats. Many will be able to eat a normal diet, but many definitely cannot. That being said: my grandmother, friend's aunt, ex roommate, ex boss, and 3 acquaintances have all had theirs out. Only one has had any problems post op- she couldn't eat eggs, red meat, drink, or have anything fried without diarrhea and nausea. I know my grandma, old boss and friends aunt definitely have more than ideal fat intake and have never had another problem after surgery. Although my grandma did tell me it took about 6 months for her bowels to become normal again. Personally I think those odds work in my favor.
I have never heard of increased liver problems. I know my grandmother who had her gallbladder removed has no problems with her liver and has never even had a polyp removed from her colon. She did have a brush with cancer about 10 years ago, it was breast cancer and considered unrelated. My other grandma has terminal colon cancer and an intact gallbladder without any liver problems (except for the metastasized tumors that are now growing there).
That being said some of these things might be coincidental. A lot of people over the age of 40 have gallbladder problems. After the age of 50 your risk for colon cancer increases. Also, the lifestyle that makes you at high risk for one, also makes you at high risk for another. (Obesity and a diet high in fat and red meat, low fiber and veg.) So it's quite possible that a person with gallbladder problems is at high risk for colon cancer because of lifestyle, environment, or age. As far as liver problems, the liver feeds into the gallbladder. So if anything went freakishly wrong during surgery, your liver will most likely be the thing effected. Also if a gallstone gets stuck, you might get jaundice and liver damage. So having gallstones and the gallbladder kept in you could cause liver problems that go unnoticed until surgery.
So to answer your main question of can you avoid surgery- probably not. You can try, by all means. Put it off until you feel ready, I did and now dear god I wish I jumped on it earlier. But would feel a lot more comfortable going into surgery now then I would of a year ago. (I do have terrible white coat problems; I HATE needles and doctors.) If I was told to be prepped for surgery last year I probably would have freaked out. This year? I want to go sit in the waiting room and say "you ready yet?" Just keep in mind that those gallstones can be a ticking time bomb. You eat something wrong, you will feel the pain. And if anything gets stuck that can cause serious life-endangering problems (like jaundice, liver damage, and infection). So if you do decide to wait on it, be smart. Avoid the no foods like process, fried, and red meats; avoid anything that makes you sick. And if you get a severe attack go to the hospital, because something could be stuck and you don't want to wait around for an infection.
I have been lucky and asymptomatic for a long time now .. although I have literally "tons" of gallstones that have shown up on an CT Scan, etc. I try to be careful about eating heavy cream sauces, etc. and limit my fat intake if I'm not home "just in case".
Any structural abnormalities of the gall bladder like stones or polyps need surgical correction. The stones can chronically irritate the gall bladder wall and cause inflammation and pain. Also, this chronic irritation is a predisposing cause for gall bladder cancer. If the stone is placed in the neck of the gall bladder, it can cause retention of bile, with stasis and consequent infection. So, the best option would be to have an elective gall bladder removal.
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