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ealth Hint #62

Gallstones: What They Feel Like, What You

© American Institute for Preventive Medicine, DonR. Powell PhD

Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer

Have you been feeling bloated and gassy for the past couple of months, especially after eating fried or other fatty foods? Do you suffer bouts of pain in the upper right side of your abdomen that last up to several hours?

Symptoms like that could be caused by stones in the gallbladder. Over 16 million Americans (most of them women) have gallstones. For some, gallstones cause no symptoms. In others, stones cause severe pain or require surgery.

In industrialized countries, the most common type of gallstone consists of cholesterol, the same fat that tends to clog coronary arteries in many people. Doctors aren't sure why gallstones form, but some people are clearly more susceptible than others. Factors that invite gallstones to form include:
A family history of gallbladder disease
Middle age
Being female
Taking estrogen
Eating a diet high in cholesterol-rich foods
Diseases of the small intestine

Treatments for gallstones range from medications (to dissolve the stones), surgery (to remove the gallbladder), or a low-fat diet (to reduce contractions of the gallbladder, thus limiting pain, and possibly keeping more stones from forming). A new treatment involves the use of guided sound waves to dissolve stones.

Dietary measures to discourage stones from forming include the following:
Eat fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Eat less fat.
Avoid refined carbohydrates and foods high in sugar.

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